How Do I Know If My Injury Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Medical professionals are not expected to be infallible and there may be poor results from treatment that do not amount to malpractice. Medical professionals are expected to exercise the basic knowledge, skills, and care ordinarily possessed and exercised by other members of the profession acting under similar conditions and circumstances. This basic knowledge and skill is called a standard of practice, or standard of care. When a medical professional treats a patient and fails to use this basic knowledge, skill, and care whether the failure consists of doing something incorrectly, or failing to do something that should be done, that failure is a deviation from the standard of practice or care.

The injured party has the burden of proving that the health care provider negligently failed to meet the applicable professional standard of care for that health care provider. That means the health care provider failed to act as a reasonably prudent health care provider in Maine would under similar circumstances. Health care providers are judged in comparison with similarly trained and qualified providers of the same class in the same community and in the same field of medical specialization. Likewise, a hospital owes their patients a duty of ordinary care to provide equipment and facilities reasonably suited to the intended uses and such as are in general use in similar hospitals under similar circumstances. The injured patient must then prove that the health care provider`s breach of the standard of care was a proximate cause of the injuries to the patient. In other words, there must be a close connection between the action of the health care provider and the harm to the patient. Finally, you have to show what damages resulted form the alleged mistake. This may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.

In an effort to withdraw unsubstantiated claims and encourage early resolution of claims, before a medical malpractice claim can be filed in court, a complaint must be filed with a pre­litigation screening panel. The screening process can be waived if all parties agree or all parties may agree to submit the claim to a binding decision of the panel. The findings of the panel cannot be used later in subsequent litigation, unless the panel`s decision is unanimously in favor of either the plaintiff or the defendant.

Medical malpractice claims are very difficult to prevail in and are also extremely expensive partly due to the need for qualified expert review and testimony. Expert testimony is required to establish negligence unless the negligence lies within the common knowledge of a layman. Whether or not you have a good case depends on the professional judgment of attorneys and medical experts. If you are told that you do not have a case with merit, you should seek another opinion from one or more other attorneys.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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