Medical malpractice is a type of wrongdoing by professionals in the medical field. It refers to any negligent or intentional action or omission during diagnosis, treatment or health management that injures a patient. Every year, thousands of patients sustain injuries and illnesses due to medical malpractice. If you notice any signs of malpractice in your health care, you may have grounds to bring a civil claim against your physician, the hospital or another party.
How Do You Know If You Have a Case for Medical Malpractice?
Most patients believe medical malpractice happens much less often than it actually does. In a 10-year period, defendants had to pay 143,713 claimants for medical malpractice claims. These are just the cases that went to court and succeeded. Texas is one of the top states for medical malpractice claims, along with California, Florida and New York. Although many actions can constitute medical malpractice, certain errors are more often involved in lawsuits than others.
- Birth injuries
- Delayed diagnoses
- Medical product defects
- Failures to treat
- Surgical mistakes
- Anesthesia errors
- Failures to warn of known risks
If you are a patient in Texas and you experience a poor health outcome, it does not necessarily mean you are the victim of medical malpractice. The legal definition of medical malpractice, or medical negligence, in Texas is the violation of a duty of care to a patient by a health care provider. A physician must have been negligent in your health care in some way for you to have a medical malpractice case.
What Are the 4 Ds of Malpractice?
During a claim, it will be up to your side of the case to prove the defendant guilty of medical malpractice. Most plaintiffs need attorneys to help them prove their cases. This is a complicated practice area with many rules and regulations in Texas. You may need proof such as eyewitness testimony, expert opinions and medical records. Proving negligence during a medical malpractice claim takes four main elements: the four Ds.
- Duty. The medical field assigns certain duties of care to those within the practice. Physicians, nurses and other health care practitioners must do what is in the best interests of their patients. They owe this duty as soon as they accept patients into their care.
- Dereliction. Dereliction is a deviation from the accepted standard of medical care, or a failure to fulfill a doctor’s obligations. It can describe any act of negligence, carelessness or wanton disregard for a patient’s safety that another health care provider would not have committed in the same circumstances.
- Damages. Damages are the specific losses or harm a patient suffered because of the dereliction of a health care provider. Medical malpractice damages in Texas can refer to economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Some cases also involve punitive damages.
- Direct cause. Finally, the health care provider’s breach of the duty of care must have been the direct cause of the patient’s injuries, damages and losses. In other words, the patient’s injuries would not have happened were it not for the defendant’s negligence or breach of duty.
Proving the four Ds during a medical malpractice suit in Texas may take hiring a medical expert to testify as to the defendant’s duties of care and alleged breach of that duty during a patient’s care. If you believe you have evidence of the four Ds, you may have all the signs of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact an injury attorney in Texas to help you determine if you have a case. If so, your lawyer can help you demonstrate duty, breach of duty, causation and damages through a preponderance of the evidence. A successful malpractice suit could pay you for losses such as hospital bills, lost wages, legal fees, physical pain and emotional distress.