Medical Malpractice Law

How Do I Know If My Injury Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Medical professionals are not expected to be infallible and there may be poor results from treatment that do not amount to malpractice. To establish malpractice, the injured party has the burden of proving that the health care provider negligently failed to meet the applicable professional standard of care for that health care provider. That means the health care provider failed to act as a reasonably prudent health care provider in Massachusetts would under similar circumstances. Health care providers are judged in comparison with similarly trained and qualified providers of the same class in the same community and in the same field of medical specialization. Likewise, a hospital owes their patients a duty of ordinary care to provide equipment and facilities reasonably suited to the intended uses and such as are in general use in similar hospitals under similar circumstances.

The injured patient must then prove that the health care provider`s breach of the standard of care was a proximate cause of the injuries to the patient. In other words, there must be a close connection between the action of the health care provider and the harm to the patient. Finally, you have to show what damages resulted form the alleged mistake. This may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. Ordinarily, unless a health care provider`s conduct is readily recognizable by a layperson as causing the patient`s injury, expert opinion testimony is required before it can be inferred that the health care provider`s want of skill or care, if any, was the legal cause of the patient`s injury.

Medical malpractice claims are very difficult to prevail in and are also extremely expensive partly due to the need for qualified expert review and testimony. In fact, every medical malpractice action must be reviewed by a tribunal consisting of a judge, a lawyer and a physician to determine whether the evidence submitted is sufficient to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry or whether the plaintiff`s case is merely an unfortunate medical result. The panel`s findings and expert testimony are admissible at trial. If the panel finds against the claimant, the claimant must post a $6,000 bond for the payment of the defendants` costs if the claimant is unsuccessful at trial as well.

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