How Do You Prove Medical Negligence?

Published on May 7, 2024, by Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp

Medical Malpractice

How do you prove medical negligence?

Medical negligence occurs when a health care provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in their profession. Unfortunately, these incidents occur more often than we want to believe. In the United States, medical mistakes are now the third-leading cause of death, according to Johns Hopkins University.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, understanding the process of proving negligence will become the cornerstone of your case.

At the Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp, we know the heartache these cases can cause victims. When you put your trust in the hands of a medical professional, you expect to receive the appropriate care, not pain and suffering.

Let’s look at how do you prove medical negligence so you’ll know if you have a valid claim yourself.

What Is Medical Negligence?

When a doctor, nurse, or hospital fails to provide adequate patient care, it can result in harm or injury.

Medical negligence often leads to physical, emotional, or financial damages, and it can have a devastating impact on the patient and their loved ones.

Some examples of these actions include:

  • Misdiagnosis: Some individuals may be diagnosed with a medical condition they do not have.
  • Inadequate medical testing: Health care providers can fail to permit the appropriate tests to diagnose a patient.
  • Failure to diagnose: Doctors may miss or overlook symptoms of serious diseases, which in turn can lead to delayed treatment.
  • Medication errors: A doctor or pharmacist may provide the wrong medication or prescribe an incorrect dose.
  • Lack of monitoring: Nurses, surgery technicians, and others can fail to monitor the patient’s condition during treatment or recovery.
  • Anesthesia mistakes: These events occur during the anesthesia administration process.
  • Improper surgical procedures: Surgeons or nurses may make surgical mistakes or operate on the wrong body parts.
  • Failure to obtain consent: Some health care providers may not adequately warn patients about the risks of a certain procedure.

Proving Negligence

If you and your legal team need to prove medical negligence, as described in this Indian Journal of Urology Study published by the National Library of Medicine, your claim will need to establish several elements of the case.

You need to show that the health care provider owed you a duty of care. In these cases, that duty stems from the doctor-patient relationship. In short, when you visit a doctor for a specific health issue, they owe you a duty of care to diagnose and treat you appropriately.

You also need to demonstrate that the provider breached their duty of care. In a medical negligence claim, these breaches occur due to misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical errors, medication mistakes, or inadequate communication. These breaches happen when the provider’s actions deviate from the accepted medical standard.

After that, you need to prove that the provider’s negligence directly caused harm or injury to you. As a result, you need to connect the breach of duty to the adverse outcome you experienced.

Finally, you need to show the harm (or damages) suffered as a result of the negligence. Damages in these claims often include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.

Now that you know the four elements of a negligence case, how do you prove them in a court of law?

Using Evidence To Prove Your Medical Malpractice Case

When it comes to proving medical negligence, you will need a solid foundation of evidence for your claim. Medical records are vital. These documents contain important information about your treatment, diagnoses, medications, and interactions with all health care providers.

You will want to gather and review these records with your legal team. Some of the most crucial documents may include:

  • Hospital charts or other medical records, including progress notes
  • Test results
  • Prescriptions

When you review them, what should you look for?

Look for discrepancies, missing entries, or conflicting information. Many times, this can indicate potential negligence on the provider’s part. You should also keep a detailed record of your medical journey.

Throughout this ordeal, note dates, symptoms, and any concerns raised during appointments.

Expert testimony is another aspect of proving medical negligence. You and your legal team will want to get opinions from experts in the same field as the provider. These medical professionals can testify about the standard of care.

Along with that, they can evaluate whether the provider’s actions deviated from what a reasonable medical professional would do. Their testimony is the key to connecting the negligence directly to the harm you suffered.

Witness statements are valuable in building your case. These statements can come from fellow patients, nurses, or other health care workers. While it can be difficult for these professionals to come forward, their observation of mistakes, oversights, or unusual behavior can help to solidify your case.

Photographs and visual evidence also help prove medical negligence. You should take clear photographs of any injuries caused by negligence, such as surgical wounds, infections, or complications. Photos can make a powerful impression in court and often help judges and juries understand the severity of the situation.

With all this evidence, you can create a timeline of events. You may want to organize your medical interactions in chronological order, including dates of appointments, procedures, and any incidents.

In turn, you can pinpoint when you believe negligence occurred.

Finally, no case is complete without the damages suffered. You’ll want to keep track of all medical expenses, including hospital bills, doctor fees, medications, and rehabilitation costs. If this negligence affected your ability to work, make sure to document lost income due to missed workdays or reduced earning capacity.

Learn More About Proving Negligence in Your Case

Remember that building a strong case requires meticulous attention to detail. While it may seem like an insurmountable task to provide negligence, when you have a skilled and experienced medical malpractice attorney in Reno on your side, you can fight for your compensation.

At the Law Office of Matthew L. Sharp, we offer free initial consultation to help you assess your legal options.