It can be difficult to believe that trusted medical provider’s negligence or wrongdoing caused your injury. However, thousands of people are injured each year because of medical negligence or medical errors. When a physical, hospital, nurse, or other health care provider causes an injury, that party may be held liable for damages under Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice laws. Before you can recover compensation for a medical malpractice claim, you must first prove that the negligence, error, or wrongdoing caused your injury.
The Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in Pennsylvania
Four basic legal elements must be proven in every medical malpractice claim. The basic elements are:
- Duty — The doctor or other provider owed a duty of care to you. Typically, you can prove duty easily by establishing that a patient-doctor relationship existed because every health care provider owes a basic duty of care to all patients within their care.
- Breach of Duty — You must prove that the doctor or other provider breached the duty of care. In most cases, proving the second element of a medical malpractice claim involves obtaining testimony from medical experts establishing the standard of care for a case with the same or similar facts and circumstances. After establishing the standard of care, the medical expert explains how the health care provider breached the standard of care.
- Causation — The third element is causation. You must prove that the breach of care was a direct cause of your injury. If you cannot prove that the breach caused your injury, you cannot recover compensation.
- Damages — The final element involves proving that the injuries sustained caused damages. Damages may include financial losses, pain, and suffering.
There could be cases in which a medical error or negligence does not cause an injury. In those cases, the matter may not rise to the level of medical malpractice. There has to be an injury, and the injury must be caused by the breach (error, negligence, or wrongdoing) for there to be medical malpractice.
The Difficult Aspect of Proving Causation
Proving causation is often one of the toughest elements of a medical malpractice claim. There are inherent risks with any medical treatment or procedure. An injury could be the result of several factors. Proving that the injury was the direct result of the error or negligence of the health care provider could be difficult.
For example, a patient develops an infection after surgery. Because infections are common, there could be many potential causes of the infection. The hospital may have failed to properly sterilize the operating room or equipment in the patient’s room. However, the patient could have developed the infection after visiting with a family member who had a contagious disease. The infection could be a normal risk of the operation, or the infection could be caused by a different condition unrelated to the operation.
When there are multiple reasons why something could have happened, it can be more difficult to prove medical malpractice. Medical experts must conduct a thorough analysis of the entire situation to determine how the patient was injured before concluding whether the cause of the injury was related to a breach of duty.
Call a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Attorney for Help
If you suspect that your injury or illness was caused by a medical professional or health care provider, contact our office now for a free case review. Learn more about medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania and how our office can help you investigate your claim.
Call The Travis Law Firm at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free consultation with a medical malpractice attorney in Erie.