Physicians and other health care providers are expected to abide by and follow what is known as the “standard of care.” This term means “what a competent physician would have done under similar circumstances.” Of course, each state determines its own standard of care for physicians practicing within that state. When a physician does not follow the standard, or the care he or she provides falls below that standard for any reason, there may be a claim for negligence. This is what is commonly known as medical negligence or medical malpractice.
Proving medical negligence
In order to establish medical negligence in a wrongful death case, it must be shown that the person’s death was caused by a negligent act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional. Other health care professionals can include surgeons, nurses, physician’s assistants, dentists, pharmacists, pathologists, toxicologists, pharmacologists, technicians, nursing homes, hospitals, medical practices, urgent care clinics, emergency rooms and many others.
In Joplin, negligence by a medical professional can come in the form of an error in diagnosis, treatment or management of an illness. Some common types of medical negligence cases include surgical errors, failure to properly monitor a patient during surgery, insufficient staffing or training in hospitals or emergency rooms, negligence relating to births, improper anesthesia or incorrect medication, or failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis of an injury or illness.
The elements of a medical negligence claim
The three required elements of proof in any negligence claim are (1) duty, (2) breach, and (3) causation. Duty is the most essential component in medical negligence claim. The duty creates the necessary legal relationship between the two parties. Without a legally recognized duty, there could be no liability. In the medical context, the medical professional must have been obligated to render services to the specific person claiming negligence.
Once a duty has been established, there must be evidence of a breach of that duty. This is where proof is required that the medical professional did not adhere to the applicable standard of care. Usually, expert testimony is necessary to establish the appropriate standard of care and to demonstrate that the accused fell below that standard.
Finally, in order to have a Joplin wrongful death claim, there must be proof that the medical negligence caused the death at issue. In other words, it must be proven that the person died because of something the medical professional did or did not do.
Is there anything worse than medical negligence?
Unfortunately, yes. A medical professional’s conduct can exceed mere negligence and become gross negligence, as in cases where a medical professional has acted so recklessly or wantonly that the mistake seems obvious to any reasonable person, even without medical expertise. A notable example is a surgeon leaving something in the body cavity, such as a surgical instrument, following an operation.
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