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Cochran Firm Blog, Philadelphia

Medical Negligence: 4 Questions to Ask Before Pursuing a Claim


The ever-changing medical landscape and unknown factors when it comes to medical treatment often make certain procedures and surgeries risky. Medical professionals are required to share any known, potential complications and side effects before treating a patient. But still, some patients suffer worsening conditions or injuries after a procedure – and not from any known side effect. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals treat their patients with the care they need. And in fact, these acts of medical negligence and medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Worsening conditions or injuries after seeking medical attention is something no one should ever go through. However, the law takes into account that, yes, medical professionals are people too, which means they make mistakes sometimes. There are four main elements to medical malpractice and two that differentiate negligence from malpractice. Before deciding whether or not to pursue a medical malpractice claim on behalf of yourself or a loved one, consider these four questions. 

Was a doctor-patient relationship established?

In order for medical negligence or malpractice to occur, a doctor-patient relationship must have been established. Let’s say you have decided to seek the advice or opinions of several physicians before deciding which treatment course to take. After the initial evaluation or appointment, you can either agree to let that doctor treat you and vice versa. Or you can continue seeking other opinions. You can only sue the physician you establish a doctor-patient relationship with. If you decide to forgo a doctor-patient relationship but take some of the advice and self-treat, for example. you cannot sue that same physician later on.

In the event that you suffer injuries from the treatments of an advising physician that did not actually perform the treatments, it can get tricky. If you can relate to this situation, we recommend you contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at The Cochran Firm Philadelphia.

Was the standard of care met?

“Standard of care” is a phrase heavily used when discussing medical negligence and malpractice cases. It is what determines whether or not a negligent act was taken, and prevents people from suing doctors simply because they are not pleased with the outcome of their treatment. 

So what does this phrase mean exactly? It refers to the reasonable actions someone with the same knowledge and skill would have taken given the same circumstance. When discussing standard of care, specialties and years of experience are taken into account.For example, a general physician is not expected to have the same knowledge or skill to treat a brain injury, such as those caused by traumatic brain injury, as a neurosurgeon. 

Additionally, almost all medical malpractice cases require an expert opinion to prove a deviation from standard of care. At The Cochran Firm Philadelphia, our medical malpractice attorneys have connections with the best medical professionals in the area who can help further prove your case.

What specific damages or injuries did you suffer?

Medical negligence occurs when a doctor-patient relationship has been established and the doctor fails to meet the standard of care any other doctor would have performed given the same circumstances. However, just because negligence was proven does not mean that you automatically have a malpractice claim.

The difference between negligence and malpractice is the damages endured by the patient. If your doctor was negligent but did not cause any damages, chances are you will not have a successful outcome in your claim. So now the question is, how does the law define damages? Damages can be considered physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, and lost wages. A victim could bear one, a couple, or all of these things for the court to recognize damages were suffered.

Were the doctors actions a direct cause of your damages?

Generally when one seeks medical advice or attention, there is a reason why. It can be difficult to prove that your worsening condition or injury was the direct result of your doctor’s action. Or whether it was a mere progression or result of the condition you came seeking advice for in the first place.

To successfully prove medical malpractice, you have to prove a clear and direct causation of your damages to your doctor’s negligence. It is essential to provide copies of all medical records and anything else that may help prove your damages were a result of negligence, such as an injury journal. The medical expert will also be asked their opinion on causation in your case. They will be asked whether or not it is reasonable to believe the damages suffered were a result of the actions taken by your doctor. 

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or illness due to medical negligence, schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys today. We will provide you with all your legal options and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.

The attorneys at our Philadelphia office have secured numerous multimillion-dollar awards for victim of serious injury and many have even been recognized as Super Lawyers for their personal injury successes. 

When you are the victim of serious injury or illness, you deserve someone on your side who is both intimately familiar with state and federal laws, and fully devoted to helping you get maximum compensation. Call us today to schedule a FREE case evaluation at 1-800-THE-FIRM.