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What must you prove in a medical malpractice case?

If you have suffered an injury or illness due to an Oregon health care professional's negligence, you probably know that you can sue that person for malpractice. You can also join the facility or practice that employs him or her in your lawsuit. But what must you prove in order to prevail in your suit?

Given that preventable medical errors now rank as the third leading cause of death in America, you would think that proving medical malpractice should be an easy matter. Unfortunately, however, it is not. Medical malpractice lawsuits are some of the most complicated and complex cases to try.

Proof of negligence

As explained by FindLaw, when you sue a health care professional for malpractice, you must, at minimum, prove the following four things: 

  1. That the doctor, nurse, hospital or other defendant(s) you are suing owed you a duty of care
  2. That (s)he and/or they provided you with inadequate and substandard care, thereby breaching his, her or their duty to you
  3. That because of the defendants' breach of duty, you suffered a compensable injury
  4. That the proximate cause of your injury was the defendants' breach of his, her or their duty of care

Applicable care standard

Obviously, health care professionals hold a variety of different academic degrees, possess a variety of professional licenses, and perform a variety of duties. Consequently, a variety of care standards exist, each of which covers a specific type of professional. The reason this is so important to your medical malpractice case has to do with the expert witnesses you and your attorney recruit to testify on your behalf.

Each of your expert witnesses will have to possess the same professional license as one of the defendants you are suing. In addition, (s)he will have to be currently practicing in the same specialty or subspecialty. Therefore, for instance, if you are suing both a surgeon and an operating room nurse, your expert witnesses will themselves have to be a surgeon and operating room nurse respectively. And they will have to be engaged in the same type of surgery as you underwent.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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