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The Patient's Burden of Proving Negligence

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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