Medical negligence, also known as medical malpractice is defined as improper or negligent treatment of a patient by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional. Law suits involving medical negligence are seen as a way to police the medical profession. If you are alleging medical negligence, you must prove four elements; first you must prove that a duty of care was owed by the medical professional. Second the standard of care was violated, third the injury you are alleging is compensable, and fourth the injury was caused in fact and proximately caused by the substandard conduct.
The first element is not difficult to prove as physicians or medical professionals owe a duty of care to whomever they treat. Causation can be a difficult element to prove, as you must be able to show sufficient evidence that the actions taken by the physician caused the alleged injury. Most physicians allege that injuries are not caused by their own negligence but by another contributing factor such as pre-existing physical conditions. The proof of injury can include both the physical and emotional effects of the treatment. The amount of money the injury is worth is usually highly debated. There are also different standards that they apply in different states. Most states apply a standard where they look at the practice of local medical professionals; this is referred to as the locality rule. There are other states that look to the national standard of the medical profession. If a medical professional has failed to follow these standards then this could be evidence of negligence.
Some states will not determine that a physician has been negligent if the physician or medical professional had to choose between different methods of treatment or in diagnosing a condition. This is referred to as the respectable minority rule. New York State uses the locality rule, where a doctor must exercise a reasonable degree of skill and knowledge as possessed by others who practice the profession within that geographic region. A doctor must use his or her best judgment and superior knowledge and skill even if it exceeds that of other doctors in the region where he or she practices (Nestrowich v. Ricotta, 767 N. E. 2d 125 (N. Y. 2002). If you think you may have a medical negligence claim, it is important that you contact an attorney well versed in medical negligence to help you assert your rights and obtain adequate compensation for your discomfort or loss.