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Standard of Care & Causation

Medical Malpractice Attorneys Proving that Negligence Caused the Injury

causationA medical professional may have been negligent in providing care to a patient, but sometimes that negligence is not the cause of the injury suffered by a patient. Because the law requires a connection between fault and injury, not all instances of medical malpractice justify an award of damages. Determining causation in medical malpractice cases often is very complicated and usually requires the assistance of expert witnesses as well as an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Expert witnesses are usually required in medical malpractice cases:

  • to establish the prevailing standard of medical care in the geographical area or the area of specialty
  • to establish that the medical professional’s negligence (failure to meet the applicable standard of care) caused the patient’s injuries

In rare instances, expert testimony may not be necessary to establish a claim because the negligence of the medical professional is obvious to lay persons without the need for any special testimony. For example, a patient who undergoes the amputation of the wrong leg need not call an expert witness to establish that malpractice has occurred. Another example is where a medical professional violates a civil or criminal statute. Sometimes it is sufficient just to prove that the statute was violated, and that the violation caused the patient’s injuries.

The increasing complexity of medical treatment means that a patient may be treated by a long list of doctors, nurses, and medical technicians in the course of treatment. Determining which of these practitioners may have been negligent, and how that negligence may have caused a patient’s injury, can be extremely complex. For example, one doctor may have incorrectly diagnosed a patient, but a subsequent doctor may have been negligent as well in failing to correct the diagnosis. Or a series of mishaps in an operating room, each by a different technician, may mean that more than one technician is liable for malpractice because each mishap contributed to the injury. Additionally, the injury may have been caused by the use of a defective medical device or drug. In those cases, the law of product liability becomes relevant in determining causation. To help you with issues such as these in Tampa, Clark & Martino has expert product liability and medical malpractice attorneys.