Home Patient Confidentiality The Patient’s Burden of Proving Negligence

The Patient’s Burden of Proving Negligence

The Patient's Burden of Proving Negligence

The
outcome of medical treatment is not always favorable. Doctors do their best to
treat patients and sometimes, the outcome is less than desirable for both
parties. Doctors must move onto the next patient because their job is to care
for the sick. However, the doctor’s alleged error stays with the patient
forever. Medical malpractice laws provide that those alleging medical
negligence prove several elements of medical malpractice to win a case. 

These
several factors to prove are designed to help courts differentiate a legitimate
suit from a frivolous suit. It is a reality that there are medical procedures
that yield unfavorable results without any evidence of medical negligence in
the case; these cases are not considered malpractice. Every medical procedure
has a possibility of something going wrong. Doctors are obligated to discuss
risk factors of any medical procedures. 

Doctors are required to keep with professional standards
of practice with their patients. This is because they assume the role of
provider of health care. Therefore, it is their responsibility to administer
medical treatment to the best of their ability. The standard to which a doctor
is held depends on several factors. Doctors cannot be held liable for medical
malpractice if the circumstances could not give the doctor the appropriate
resources to perform a medical procedure. For example, a doctor who could not
provide his or her patient’s heart transplant due to the rarity of O negative
organ donors would not be guilty of medical negligence. 

The patient’s inability
to be healed is a matter of providence and not negligence. However, if the doctor
transplanted the wrong heart which resulted in the death of a patient, then the
doctor would be guilty of medical negligence. Patients are entitled to be
informed of the possible consequences of any medical procedure. If the doctor
warned that the chances of recovery for using a slightly different blood type
heart were less than appealing and the patient still insisted, the doctor is
most likely not guilty of medical negligence. This example is complex because
the doctor did not go in line with the hospital’s standard of care; but had the
intent of healing the patient by playing low odds with the patients’ consent.
The extent of the medical negligence, here, is arguable.  

In addition to substandard care and negligence, the
patient must prove that the care that was received did, in fact, harm or injure
the patient. This seems like an obvious prospect; however, it is almost certain
that the patient was not in the best of health before receiving medical care.
Therefore, the exact origin of the current medical condition can sometimes be
more ambiguous. It is also important for the court to consider whether the
disease or injury would have happened without the doctor’s alleged medical
negligence.  

Medical malpractice cases are not as clear-cut as being
in a worse condition than before receiving care from the doctor. It is an
unfortunate fact that many patients do not recover from treatment. Determining
the extent to which the unfortunate outcome is a result of medical malpractice
is an arguable matter of fact that sometimes must be settled in court.  
    

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