What Exactly Is Medical Malpractice?
Accidents happen. But when they happen due to the negligence of medical professionals they can often have severe consequences. This is called medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a medical professional that does not perform their medical duties in a competent manner. But how can you prove this?
In order to prove that there has been medical malpractice, an individual must be able to demonstrate four different things:
- A doctor-patient relationship must have existed at the time that the harm was committed. In other words, you must have hired the doctor and the doctor must have agreed to take you on as a patient. You cannot sue a doctor who was not treating you.
- The physician or medical professional acted negligently. Medical malpractice demands something more than just being dissatisfied. You must be able to demonstrate that the doctor caused harm by acting in a manner in which a competent doctor in the same or similar situation would not have acted. This generally requires the testimony of a medical expert to explain that the treating medical professional did not carry out the appropriate medical standard of care. This does not mean that the doctor’s care had to have been the very best possible; just that it was “reasonably skillful and careful.”
- The physician’s negligence must have been the cause of the injury. It is not enough to show that the medical professional acted negligently; an individual must also demonstrate that the negligent action or omission actually caused the harm. For example, if someone is receiving chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer and the patient dies, it would be difficult to prove that it was the doctor’s negligence that caused his or her death. Since many patients seeking medical personnel already have an injury or illness, it is important to have a medical expert to testify the causal relationship between the doctor’s negligence and the injury.
- The injury was the cause of specific damages. Negligence without actual harm is not considered medical malpractice – even if the doctor failed to uphold the appropriate medical standard of care. Types of harm that a patient can sue for include:
- Physical pain
- Mental pain/suffering
- Other medical bills
- Lost work and earning capacity
Common types of medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose accurately or mistaken/unreasonable diagnosis of a condition
- Failure to warn a patient of known risks
- Failure to treat or improper treatment
- Mistakes in filling prescriptions
While you are entitled to seek compensation in such situations, there is a time limit for claims (a statute of limitations). This is dependent upon whether the injured individual is a minor or an adult. In Oklahoma, an adult has two years from the date of the negligent act to file a claim, while a minor under 12 has seven years from the date of the act to file a claim. However, if the minor is over the age of 12 at the time of the action, his or her parents must file a medical malpractice claim by his or her nineteenth birthday. If you fail to do so, you will be barred from filing that claim.
Graves McLain Can Help.
The attorneys at Graves McLain have substantial experience in representing difficult and complicated medical malpractice cases. Call the experienced Oklahoma Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Graves McLain at 918-359-6600 today.
Graves McLain – Serious Lawyers for Serious Injuries.