Why A Poor Medical Outcome Is Not Enough To Win A Medical Malpractice Case

There are Three Essential Elements Which Must Be Proven in Any Medical Malpractice Case

  1. Negligence;
  2. Causation; and
  3. Damages

— “Negligence” is defined as unreasonable conduct by a medical professional (malpractice);

— “Causation” is defined as the “nexus” connecting the unreasonable conduct (negligence) with a resulting effect, typically an injury. A medical professional’s negligence must be the cause of harm suffered by the patient. If, for instance, a doctor was supposed to amputate a patient’s left leg, but instead amputated the right leg by accident, that wrong-limb surgery would have caused the patient to lose an otherwise healthy lower extremity.

— “Damages” is a term that describes the results of a patient’s injuries—items like physical pain, mental suffering, lost wages, medical bills, and scarring/disfigurement would all constitute damages in a medical malpractice case.


poor medical outcome - medical negligence

Malpractice Case Misconceptions

The concept of professional negligence is one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of medical malpractice cases. It is often wrongly assumed that a physician committed malpractice because a medical complication arose, or because the course of treatment resulted in a poor outcome. When evaluating the merits of a medical malpractice case, it is important to understand how negligence is defined and measured.

Medical Negligence and Accepted Standards of Care

Medical negligence is commonly defined as a breach (departure) from an accepted standard of medical care. Medical negligence is not a standard set by attorneys; rather, the medical community itself establishes such standards. The standard of care is what a reasonably prudent physician would do under a similar set of circumstances. To prove medical negligence, it must be established that the defendant doctor failed to act in conformity with the standards set by his or her own colleagues in the particular field of medicine involved in the case. If, for instance, an anesthesiologist administered double the commonly-accepted, appropriate dose of an anesthetic agent, which thereby resulted in the patient’s death, that anesthesiologist would have departed from the standard of care (i.e., negligence) resulting in (i.e., causing) damages (i.e., death).

Ascertaining whether a physician failed to act in accordance with the standard of care can be difficult. Medical malpractice attorneys often rely on their past experiences when evaluating potential cases. For instance, some injuries result from known and accepted complications of a procedure, which can occur in the absence of negligence. In evaluating more complex cases, a medical malpractice attorney will rely on the input of physician experts to determine whether the standard of care was met.

A Poor Medical Outcome is Not A Guarantee of Negligence or Malpractice

It’s important to remember that a poor medical outcome does not automatically equate with medical negligence or malpractice. An in-depth evaluation must be undertaken to determine whether the medical complication was caused by a breach in the accepted standard of medical care. A highly-experienced medical malpractice attorney is in the best position to undertake this evaluation.

Contact The Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers Near Me

If you or someone you love has been injured or believe that medical negligence has occured, the medical malpractice attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., can help. Our team of lawyers consists of some of the best trial lawyers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we will fight aggressively for you throughout the legal process.

Talk To A Medical Malpractice Lawyer Near Me The attorneys at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., have decades of experience representing patients and their families across Philadelphia, Berks, Bucks, Dauphin, Delaware, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Montgomery, and Northampton Counties. We also serve injured patients throughout the State of New Jersey. Contact us today toll-free at 1-855-633-6251 or fill out our confidential contact form to learn more about your legal options.

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