Question from ayeh, How Do the Elements of Negligence Apply to Medical Malpractice?
Answer from AI:
Negligence in the context of medical malpractice involves a healthcare provider’s failure to meet the standard of care, resulting in harm to a patient. To establish a case of medical negligence, the following four elements must be proven:
1. Duty to Use Due Care (Standard of Care)
Healthcare providers have a legal obligation to provide care that meets the professional standards expected within the medical community. This is known as the standard of care. It is determined based on what a reasonably skilled healthcare provider would do under similar circumstances.
In the scenario described, the attending doctors at Clinton Memorial Hospital had a duty to provide care consistent with the standards of the medical profession, which would include accurately diagnosing the patient’s condition and providing appropriate treatment.
2. Breach of Duty
A breach occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care. In this case, if the attending doctors did not perform necessary diagnostic tests, such as the spinal tap they considered but did not execute, or if they failed to properly interpret and act on the blood test results, this could constitute a breach of duty.
The fact that the patient was discharged without a diagnosis and without the doctors knowing the results of the blood tests could be seen as a failure to provide adequate care.
3. Inquiry/Actual Damages
The patient must have suffered actual harm as a result of the breach of duty. In legal terms, this is referred to as damages. The complaint indicates that the patient developed severe conditions, including progressive paraplegia and acute renal failure, and was rendered permanently and totally physically disabled. These conditions represent the actual damages the patient suffered.
Causation links the breach of duty directly to the damages suffered by the patient. There are two types of causation in negligence law: actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause, or cause in fact, means that the breach directly resulted in the injury. Proximate cause means that the breach was sufficiently related to the injury, and the injury was a foreseeable result of the breach.
In this scenario, if the failure to diagnose and treat the infection led to the development of the epidural abscess and subsequent disabilities, this could establish causation.
To pursue a medical malpractice claim, the patient (or their representative) would typically need to consult with a legal professional who specializes in medical negligence. An attorney would help gather evidence, consult medical experts, and determine whether the four elements of negligence are present in the case.
It is important to note that medical malpractice laws can vary by state, and there are often specific procedural requirements and time limits (statutes of limitations) for filing a claim. Therefore, it is crucial to seek personalized legal advice to understand one’s rights and the potential for a successful legal claim.