Doctors are expected to uphold a basic standard of care for all patients in New Jersey. If they don’t follow the standard of care, they could get sued for medical malpractice. However, not all medical errors mean medical malpractice, and the patient must prove several elements.
The patient had a relationship with the doctor
One element the patient must prove is the doctor owed them a standard of care because they had an established relationship. For example, overhearing a doctor giving another patient advice does not constitute a relationship.
It means the patient chose the doctor, the doctor agreed to treat the patient, and the treatment was ongoing. The patient can prove this element with medical records of the complete treatment.
The doctor breached the duty of care
The patient must show the doctor deviated from a standard of care another doctor in the same situation would have followed, or they breach the duty of care. This does not have to be the best care, but careful and skillful.
For example, careful and skilled doctors would not leave surgical instruments inside the body or prescribe the wrong medicine. A medical expert in the same field is commonly called to the case to testify on the standard of care.
The breach of duty caused the injury
Even if the treatment fell below a standard of care, the patient doesn’t have a case without an actual injury or side-effect that caused more harm. The patient must prove the breach of duty caused significant physical harm, which may be hard to prove, if not obvious. A patient could use a loss of income lost from needing additional treatment as proof. A doctor may not be liable for a patient who is unhappy with the treatment.
Medical malpractice often happens unintentionally, but it can cause patient harm. A patient who feels medical neglect caused their issues needs a good defense team to help them prove the case.