Steve Clark and Associates

Proudly Serving The Greater Oklahoma City Area

Medical negligence or medical malpractice can be a complicated type of personal injury to prove. Any person who has been injured by the medical care they received can file a medical negligence lawsuit. For a successful case, you will need to prove the following four facts:

  • There was a duty of care between the medical care provider and the injured party
  • There was a breach of that duty of care
  • The breach caused the patient to be injured
  • That injury caused financial harm

Your attorney will have to prove each of these factors to help you win a medical negligence claim.

What Is Duty of Care?

Duty of Care can be described as an established relationship between the medical care provider and the patient. This can be in the form of a regular doctor that you use for your medical care, the nurse that helps you while you are in the hospital, or the surgeon that operates on you.

There must be an interaction between the care provider and the patient in terms of medical care for Duty of Care to be established.

Casual interaction between a medical care provider and the patient does not qualify as Duty of Care. For example, if you are riding in an elevator with a doctor that is not treating you, and through conversation, they recommend you seeking treatment for a condition, duty is not established.

However, if you make an appointment with your doctor, and they conduct an exam and run tests and make a diagnosis, they have established a duty of care. The actions of this medical care provider must be up to accepted standards, or they may be held responsible for negligence.

What Is Breach of Duty of Care?

All medical professionals have a responsibility to treat their patients within the approved standards of their profession. When medical care providers act outside those norms, the potential for harm, and a breach of their Duty of Care is significantly higher.

For example, if you wet to the emergency room with a large cut on your arm the standard of care would be for the doctor to examine the wound to see how deep it is and if it has done damage to any muscles or tendons, clean the wound to prevent infection, stitch or seal the wound using the appropriate medical techniques and cover the wound for additional protection from infections.

If your medical care provider followed this accepted standard of care, they have not breached their duty to the patient. However, if the patient presented to the emergency room with a large cut, and these steps were not followed, the patient could be harmed.

If the medical staff did not check the depth of the wound, there is a possibility that the patient could lose the use of their hand or arm due to muscle or tendon issues that were not addressed. If the wound was not cleaned properly or dressed afterward, the patient could experience infections. If the wound is not closed correctly, the patient could continue to suffer bleeding or other medical conditions.

While this is a very generalized way of looking at Breach of Duty, it is just an example of how it is determined if negligence has occurred.

Breach of Duty should not be confused with a poor or unexpected outcome. All medical care comes with risks, and there are no treatments that guarantee 100 percent success. Disappointment in the outcome of your medical care or not achieving desired results from that care is not a sign of a breach. Your OKC medical negligence lawyer will establish that your injury was a result of Breach of Duty and not just an unanticipated outcome of treatment.

Breach of Duty Lead to Injury

The next thing that your OKC medical negligence lawyer will need to show is that the Breach of Duty caused an injury. It is important to understand that an injury does not always have to be a physical injury to the patient. A misdiagnosis of disease could cause the patient to be injured because the delayed diagnosis has caused their condition to worsen.

Other injuries can also occur as a result of medical negligence. Careless care of a wound may lead to serious infections and complications from that infection. A medical care provider that does not properly sanitize their hands each time they are with a patient can spread diseases or infections, causing the patients harm. There are many ways that a patient can be harmed by the actions of a medical professional not working within the accepted norm of their profession.

The Injury Caused Financial Harm

The final thing that your attorney will have to show is that the injury you received has caused you financial harm. This is usually the easiest part of a medical negligence case to prove.

If you have incurred any medical expenses as a result of your injury, you have been financially harmed. The same applies to loss of income, loss of benefits, or other financial losses that were a result of your injury.

Your attorney will also seek damages on your behalf for pain and suffering and mental anguish and any other types of compensation that you may be entitled to under state law.

Work Closely With Your Attorney

Medical negligence cases cannot go before the court if they cannot meet these four criteria. It is important to work closely with your attorney so that you can meet the requirement for all four of these factors.

Medical negligence is very serious. Patients place their trust and their lives in the hands of these professionals. When medical professionals breach that trust and harm a patient, the effects will be felt throughout the industry. Stopping negligent acts helps keep our medical care safe for everyone.

If you believe that you have been harmed as a result of the medical care you received, you should consult with an OKC medical negligence lawyer as soon as possible. Working with an attorney will protect your rights as a victim of medical negligence.