If a health care professional makes a mistake and a patient is injured or killed, an action for medical malpractice may be brought against the person or entity responsible for the injury.
In any medical malpractice case, you must prove that the doctor or hospital failed to exercise the proper standard of care in the treatments.
What exactly is the standard of care, and how can you prove that a doctor’s actions fell below the accepted standard?
What is a Standard of Care?
The standard of care is what a reasonable health care professional would do in the given circumstances. If a patient complains of abdominal pain, fever, and nausea, the proper standard of care might be to check for appendicitis. A lump on a patient’s body may indicate a possible malignancy, and doctors may agree that certain tests are necessary.
In all states, expert testimony is needed to establish what the appropriate standard of care is for a particular case and whether the doctor’s treatment fell below the accepted standard. In North Carolina, a sworn affidavit from a medical professional is needed just to file a medical malpractice suit. Before the suit begins, you must locate an expert who will sign a sworn statement saying that the doctor or hospital failed to follow the accepted standard of care, and that the patient’s injuries resulted from that failure.
The expert witness must state that he is willing to testify in court as well. An expert witness must be able to show that he is familiar with the appropriate standard of care for the specific case in which he is testifying. A heart surgeon may not be familiar with the appropriate standard of care for a pediatrician, for example.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
In most malpractice cases, the injured person must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the care he received fell below the accepted standard. The preponderance of the evidence means that it is more likely than not that the standard of care was not met. Both sides, of course, will present expert testimony, and the judge or jury must decide which expert testimony is more credible. In a case involving emergency care, however, the standard of proof is higher – the injured person must prove his case by “clear and convincing” evidence sometimes defined as “substantially more likely than not.”
The requirement of having a sworn statement from an expert at the beginning of a malpractice suit can make it easier on injured parties as well as on doctors. You know that your case has a decent chance of success before you begin, and having a sworn statement from a medical expert may increase the chances of settling your case. An experienced North Carolina medical malpractice law firm will have experts available to evaluate cases, and provide expert testimony if necessary.
Call a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, choose your attorney wisely. The seasoned experts at Campbell & Associates have years of experience in the medical malpractice field, and can give you an honest, free case evaluation. Call 704-326-7243 to talk to one of our malpractice attorneys.