Medical malpractice is a civil claim that a physician or other health care provider failed to use reasonable care in caring for a patient. Reasonable care on the part of a physician or health care provider is that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by a similar and reasonably careful physician or health care provider. Negligence on the part of a physician is doing something that a reasonably careful physician would not do under the circumstances or failing to do something that a reasonably careful physician would do under the circumstances.
In order to recover in a medical malpractice case, it is necessary to show that the claimed negligence actually caused injury to the patient. Negligence is a legal cause of injury if it directly and in natural and continuous sequence produces or contributes substantially to providing the claimed injury, so that it can reasonably be said, without the negligence, the injury would not have occurred.
When a doctor, hospital or other health care provider is accused of negligence, which injures a patient, the patient may bring an action for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a highly specialized field of law. Claims can take months or even years to resolve. Typically, the injured patient hires a lawyer to represent him or her, and the insurance company, which provides coverage for the accused health care provider, will hire an attorney to defend the accused physician or health care provider.
The appropriate standard of care for a doctor or other health care provider must be established by expert testimony, either prior to or at a trial. Typically, the injured patient’s attorney will provide expert witness testimony, usually from a physician, that the particular physician’s or other health care provider’s treatment deviated from the appropriate standard of care. Then the attorney for the physician or other health care provider will usually provide testimony that the treatment rendered to the patient met the standard of reasonable medical care.
Typically, the parties, through their respective attorneys negotiate, with the goal in mind of possibly settling the case without a trial. If a trial becomes necessary, the parties will each present their cases in open court, and the jury will decide whether there was malpractice, and if so, the amount of monetary damages to be awarded for the damages caused to the patient, by the said negligence.