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Medical malpractice: Proving causation can be a challenge

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2021 | Medical Malpractice |

When New Jersey patients suffer serious harm after a medical procedure, they may be convinced that they experienced medical malpractice. However, it can be more challenging to prove malpractice in court. The standard to determine whether medical professional negligence occurred is based on whether the patient received harmful treatment that failed to meet the accepted standard of care. This means that the patient bears the burden of proving that the treatment they received caused harm while deviating from the standard of care for their condition.

Was the treatment below acceptable standards of care?

In some ways, it is easier for patients to show a deviation from an accepted standard of care. Medical experts can document the scientific consensus on a wide range of medical issues and treatments and indicate clearly whether a particular hospital or doctor’s approach was in line with the accepted standard for treating the patient’s illness, investigating symptoms or performing surgery. However, this is not sufficient to prove that medical malpractice occurred. The patient also must show that if they received non-standard or below-standard medical care, then this failure on the doctor’s part actually caused the harm done to the patient.

Did the doctor’s error cause the injury?

Medical treatment often comes with accepted risks that can affect a patient negatively even when their care was standard. In addition, the timing of some issues, like a misdiagnosis, can significantly affect whether the mistake was responsible for the harm done to a patient.

One common malpractice claim is a missed diagnosis of cancer, a progressive illness that becomes worse with a lack of treatment. However, a doctor may argue that the cancer was already sufficiently progressed that their misdiagnosis did not cause the patient’s poor prognosis. Accordingly, patients may face challenging circumstances when seeking compensation for the damages they suffered after their medical treatment.