Physician or hospital errors can have serious and long-term consequences and change lives. But seeking compensation requires proof in court.
Medical malpractice lawsuit
A successful medical malpractice lawsuit requires proof of negligence. Plaintiffs must demonstrate all of the following:
- The doctor or hospital had a duty of care to their patient.
- They were careless.
- Their negligence caused injury, death or other harm.
- The patient suffered pain and suffering, and financial and other losses.
Doctors and health care facilities must follow certain professional standards when they provide care. These standards include being trained and capable of providing care. Doctors must also be honest and communicate with patients and their families. They also need to obtain informed consent before providing care, for example.
Oregon law governs malpractice claims in this state. But a federal court may have authority over hospitals or clinics run by the U.S. government.
Courts can award compensation for losses. Sometimes courts may also award punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in their specific malpractice.
Medical malpractice includes:
- Failure or delay in diagnosis.
- Misdiagnosis, which may involve treatment for a condition that the patient does not have or the failure to treatment for a condition the patient has.
- Medication error involving wrong dosage or incorrect medication.
- Birth injuries that involve children being born with a disability from a doctor’s care or decisions or their death from the doctor’s bad decisions.
- Long-term consequences where a patient has a disability or chronic pain or cannot work because of an incorrectly performed medical procedure.
Unfortunately, health care practitioners may engage in defensive medicine to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit. Positive defensive medicine involves providing too much care and negative defensive medicine occurs when a doctor does not provide enough or any care. Defensive medicine may increase costs.
Most malpractice claims are settled out of court. Medical centers, hospital systems or a medical practice may also utilize alternative dispute resolution to resolve cases.
ADRS often have communication and resolution programs to mediate or prevent lawsuits. A CPR:
- Encourages communication with patients and their family.
- Investigates incidents.
- Provides explanations.
- Provides apologies.
- Gives compensation or other types of resolution.
Attorneys can help patients and their families determine if there is malpractice and obtain evidence. They can represent their interests in negotiations and proceedings.