At Kevin P Landry Law offices we have been practicing medical malpractice law for more than twenty years and we have had the honor of working with medical experts in different fields. That experience has not only exposed us to a wealth of knowledge in medicine but it’s also given us the chance to understand how medicine is practiced. Additionally, we’ve also learned the financial factors involved while pursuing a medical malpractice case.
With that being said, causation is often the most difficult element to prove in a medical malpractice case.
Can You Prove Causation in Medical Malpractice Case?
The short answer is yes and in order to do so, we need to prove that indeed your health care provider was negligent.
Medical negligence is described as medical care that falls below the accepted standard of medical care and as a result, harms the patient. It is therefore up to you, as the patient, to prove that your doctor did not adhere to the standard of care and consequently caused you harm.
When working with a medical malpractice lawyer, the first question they will ask is how your doctor was negligent. Keep in mind that just because you did not get the expected outcome, it automatically means that your health care provider was negligent. Additionally, just because another doctor would have used a different procedure doesn’t mean that your doctor was negligent. Finally, an actual mistake on the heath care provider’s part doesn’t imply medical malpractice.
The health care provider can only be held liable if they acted unreasonably. For instance, they did something that no other health care provider would do given the circumstances. In such situations, neither you nor your lawyer can testify that your doctor acted unreasonably; only another health care provider can. Oftentimes, medical malpractice lawyers need to hire a medical expert to analyze your case only to find out that the health care provider acted reasonably. Below is how the expert will analyze your case to determine if it’s viable.
The Four D’s of Medical Negligence
Your case has to meet four requirements in order for you to receive compensation.
1. Duty of Care
You must prove that you had a relationship with your health care provider and that they owed you duty of care. Establishing duty of care can be as simple as showing copies of medical records proving that the doctor was responsible for your treatment.
You must prove that the health care provider deviated from medical standards. An example of deviation includes:
- Surgical errors
- Wrong prescriptions
- Performing unnecessary procedures
- Prescribing wrong dose
You must prove that the health care provider’s deviation caused damage. The damages don’t need to be physical; they can also be emotional, financial or mental.
You can provide records that show evidence of the amount you spent to correct your health care provider’s deviation if you want to prove financial damages.
4. Direct Cause
Lastly, you have to prove that your health care provider’s deviation is what caused your injury. For example, if you had a caesarian section and the gynecologist did not stitch you up properly and as a result your wound opened up, then you would have a direct cause linking the gynae to your injuries.
However, if you just came out of surgery and started lifting heavy objects and the stiches came undone, then the gynae would not be directly responsible for your injuries. Instead, it would be your own fault or not following treatment protocol after your caesarian section.
Only a Qualified Medical Expert Can Testify
Again, a medical expert will charge for their time. They will review your medical records and the process might take some time. If they do manage to find cause and effect, going ahead with the claim will consume a lot of time and the expenses will multiply rapidly.
The decision to pursue a medical malpractice case must be made very carefully. It’s usually much easier and less costly to demonstrate negligence rather than an underlying injury/ illness is what harmed you.
The entire process can take a serious emotional toll on you and the heath care provider and therefore many medical malpractice lawyers rarely take on cases that do not have merit. Due to how expensive and time consuming these cases are, we are able to properly screen them during the initial free consultation, following which we only pursue cases we are sure are solid.