Medical errors are commonly referred to as medical malpractice or medical negligence. Medical negligence can be generally defined as substandard treatment by a doctor or other health care provider that directly causes physical or emotional damage to a patient. Substandard care is care that violates normal medical practice. This is referred to as the standard of care. All health care providers are responsible to practice according to the standard of care. In order to go forward through the legal system with a medical negligence claim, you must establish four elements:
Legal duty – A legal duty exists whenever a health care professional or hospital undertakes care or treatment of a patient.
Breach of the duty – A breach is when the provider fails to conform to the standard of care. The standard of care is testified to by an expert witness that will write a report, as well as go to court and give sworn testimony.
The breach caused the injury – The breach of the standard of care must be the cause of the injury that the patient suffered.
Damages – There must be damages, physical or emotional, or there is no basis for the claim even if the health care provider was negligent.
The burden of proving each of these elements falls on the patient/plaintiff. If the plaintiff fails to present sufficient evidence to prove each and every element, her case will fail. Christine Smith has successfully handled complex civil litigation involving medical negligence, either through settlements or jury trials.