doctor reading a monitor in the surgery room

How to Prove Medical Malpractice

What is Medical Malpractice?

According to a Forbes article, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the United States, right behind heart disease and cancer. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from the recognized standard of care. The standard of care is defined as what a reasonable healthcare provider would have done (or would not have done) given the same set of circumstances. In other words, if another doctor, given the same set of circumstances, would have diagnosed a person with cancer, but the individual’s doctor did not until the cancer had spread too far to treat, then he or she could have a medical malpractice claim. The Finn Law Firm has helped many people who were the victims of medical malpractice, and Attorney Larry Finn can help you as well.

How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?

To prove medical malpractice, you must be able to show these four elements:

  • You had a doctor-patient relationship with your healthcare provider. This means you hired the doctor, and the doctor agreed to be hired. Generally, making a doctor’s appointment and showing up for the appointment proves there was such a relationship. On the other hand, if you are at a party and ask a medical question of a doctor who is also at the party, there was no doctor-patient relationship. The question of the doctor-patient relationship usually only arises when a consulting physician did not directly treat you.
  • Your healthcare provider exhibited negligence. This means that you cannot sue for medical malpractice simply because you are unhappy with the outcome of your treatment. Your healthcare provider must have clearly exhibited negligence, whether through an action or an omission. Further, the care you received from your doctor does not necessarily have to be the best, rather must simply be reasonably skilled and reasonably careful.
  • The negligence of your doctor or healthcare provider caused your injury. Many malpractice claims involve those who started out sick or injured. This means there can be a question regarding whether the doctor actually caused the injury. As an example, if a patient dies as a direct result of breast cancer, it must clearly be shown that the negligence of the doctor caused the death, rather than the breast cancer. It must be shown that the doctor’s incompetence was the direct cause of the injury.
  • Finally, you must be able to show that your injury led to specific damages. Even if it appears clear your healthcare provider did not perform to the expected standards in his or her field, if no harm resulted, then you cannot sue for medical malpractice. You must be able to show that as a result of the healthcare provider’s negligence, you suffered physical pain, additional medical bills, lost work and lost earning capacity, or mental anguish.

What are the Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

The five most common types of medical malpractice include the following:

  1. Misdiagnosis, when a doctor fails to diagnose the correct illness. Misdiagnosis counts as medical malpractice because it may have prevented the patient from receiving the necessary treatment.
  2. A delayed diagnosis is similar to a misdiagnosis; the doctor makes an incorrect diagnosis, but the patient does eventually receive an accurate diagnosis. This delay could allow the original condition to worsen.
  3. Failure to treat occurs when your doctor arrives at the right diagnosis but fails to recommend treatment for the condition. Failure to treat is often seen among doctors that are severely overbooked, therefore are less than diligent about the basic standards of care.
  4. Surgical errors occur more often than you might think. In some instances, an incorrect procedure is performed, in others, an unnecessary surgical procedure is performed. A surgical error can include damage to organs, nerves, or tissues during surgery, or administering the wrong level of anesthesia during the surgery. Other types of surgical errors include medical equipment left inside the patient, non-sterile surgical instruments leading to an infection, and lack of post-op care.
  5. Birth injuries can be the most devastating type of medical malpractice. Birth injuries can relate to inadequate prenatal care, or injuries caused to the mother or baby during birth that were preventable.

What are the Statutes of Limitations Regarding an Illinois Medical Malpractice Claim?

There is a window of time you have under Illinois medical malpractice law in which to file your claim. In the state of Illinois, you have two years from the date you knew—or should have known—about the injury. Illinois malpractice law does not allow a patient to bring a lawsuit more than four years after the medically negligent act occurred, except in the case of patients who are minors at the time the medical malpractice occurred. Patients under the age of 18 have up to eight years to file a medical malpractice claim, so long as the claim is filed prior to the time the patient turns 22.

How Can the Finn Law Firm Help with Your Medical Malpractice Claim?

Being injured—sometimes very severely—by a medical professional you placed your trust with is a very difficult situation. Not only are you left injured, perhaps unable to work or do the normal things you previously did, your trust in the medical profession has also been severely damaged. The Finn Law Firm can help you through this difficult time. We have the experience and skills necessary to ensure you receive a fair award for your damages. Attorney Larry Finn understands the pain you are in—physical and emotional—and will handle all the legal details of your medical malpractice claim, giving you the time you need to begin to heal from your injuries. Contact the Finn law Firm today!

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