Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases
One of the biggest obstacles in a medical malpractice case is establishing that the medical provider was liable for the victim’s injury or illness. There are numerous hurdles to clear, as well as several misconceptions that might confuse someone not well-versed in the law. A committed medical malpractice attorney could help victims by explaining liability and seeing to it that the proper conditions are met to argue for their client.
What is Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases?
In order to show liability in a medical malpractice case, a lawyer has to demonstrate that the doctor or other healthcare provider was negligent. They have to show that this provider did not act as others would in the same or similar circumstances. Proving negligence often requires expert witnesses who can describe the standard of care, meaning the rules medical providers must follow when doing their jobs.
In misdiagnosis cases, liability often has to do with differential diagnosis. Differential diagnosis is a system of priority that doctors must carry out any time a patient comes in with a certain set of symptoms. If a person comes in with chest pain, the doctor has a priority list of potential conditions they must go through that fit the bill for that symptom. If the condition can cause death or catastrophic injury, that is the first thing that they must rule out. They work their way down to the condition that is least likely to do harm to the patient.
A doctor is at fault in a misdiagnosis case if they did not take the time out to consider conditions that can cause death or catastrophic injury. Other misdiagnosis cases involve doctors missing something on an X-ray such as a tumor that could grow and eventually become untreatable.
Does Signing a Consent Form Affect a Person’s Medical Malpractice Case?
Under no circumstance does signing a consent form prevent a patient from pursuing a medical malpractice case, especially when the result is catastrophic. This is a huge misconception about medical malpractice cases. A consent form goes over any known risks or complications. However, patients do not consent that the doctor or the surgeon is allowed to be negligent when they carry out the procedure.
Factors That Can Complicate Liability
One of the biggest issues in any medical malpractice case is personal responsibility. A jury might ask: did the patient follow medical advice before malpractice occurred? For example, a patient may experience malpractice during a visit to the emergency room. If the patient only required treatment because they did not take their prescribed medication, however, this can complicate a case. The jury may believe the victim would not be in the ER to begin with if they had followed the advice of their doctor.
Another complicating factor is whether a patient’s death was the result of malpractice or if it would have happened regardless. That is often the most difficult part of a medical malpractice case to prove.
For example, imagine a patient caught an infection due to medical malpractice and then had a heart attack. One argument says they would not have had a heart attack without the infection. However, the defense could argue the patient would have had a heart attack regardless because they had heart disease, smoked for 40 years, and were obese. That can be a big issue in any medical malpractice case.
One misconception in medical malpractice cases is that if a doctor comes in after a procedure and apologizes, admitting the mistake, it is evidence of guilt. The patient might try to use this as evidence, but under Ohio law, that statement is prohibited by the rules of evidence.
Another misconception is that just because something bad happened, medical malpractice must have occurred. That is not always the case. Complications and infections could have occurred regardless of malpractice. For example, someone has an infection occur during surgery, but the doctor catches and addresses it. Even if the infection causes serious harm to the patient, they may not have legal recourse if the doctor acted responsibly.
An Attorney Could Help Prove Liability in Your Medical Malpractice Case
There can be a fine line between a medical error that can or cannot be considered malpractice. It is wise to have a lawyer who works in medical malpractice on your side to help establish liability. Call Tittle & Perlmuter today to see if one of our attorneys could assist you.