Medical Malpractice Lawyer Montclair New Jersey
What does a medical malpractice lawyer do ?
When a doctor makes a mistake in diagnosis or treatment, it raises a number of concerns, first and foremost being the well-being of the patient and the impact of the error on his or her condition. Eventually, the incident may raise a different sort of red flag, when the patient asks whether the doctor’s mistake amounts to medical malpractice. The answer may be more complicated than you might expect. That’s the focus of this article: understanding when an error in the healthcare setting can lead to a valid malpractice claim.
There’s a lot more to a viable medical malpractice case than merely a mistake on the part of a health care professional or facility.
Here’s an overview of the different elements that must be in place — and that, when in dispute, must be established through evidence and testimony by the plaintiff and his or her legal team — in order to bring a successful medical malpractice lawsuit:
- the existence of a doctor-patient relationship
- the provision of care (which includes decisions, treatment, and the failure to treat) that fell below the accepted medical standard of care (a “breach” of the standard of care that amounts to “medical negligence,” in the language of the law)
- a causal connection between the care provider’s medical negligence and the patient’s harm, and
- quantifiable harm (“damages”) to the patient as a result.
In some ways, defining medical malpractice means defining these elements, so let’s take a closer look at a few of them — specifically, those upon which the success of a medical malpractice case typically hinge: the “medical standard of care” and the doctor’s (or other care provider’s) breach of that standard (“medical negligence”).
The Medical Standard of Care
The issue of the appropriate medical standard of care to apply is often one of the most contentious in a medical malpractice case in [flood], and proving this element is usually a two-pronged task that includes:
- establishing the appropriate medical standard of care that should apply to the patient’s case, and
- showing in detail exactly how the defendant (the doctor or other care provider) fell short of meeting that standard.
In a nutshell, the medical standard of care is the type and amount of skill and attention that a prudent, similarly-trained health care professional, in the same medical community as the defendant, would have provided to the patient. That’s a lot of “legalese,” but that’s because it’s a complex concept.
Basically, the (simplified) question here is, what are the accepted practices surrounding the medical procedure or course of treatment that led to the alleged mistake? And the answer is almost always provided through the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert medical witness(es), usually doctors who have expertise with the patient’s condition, and who practice medicine in the same geographic area as the defendant doctor.