Making mistakes when administering medical care to patients is not unheard of amongst medical care providers. Most of the time, those mistakes pose no threat to the patient’s overall health, but sometimes a major mistake or an accumulation of minor mistakes can prove to be disastrous for the patient. Cases of medical malpractice, especially those leading to permanent impairment or death, are often serious such that it becomes a legal case that is handled in a law court. This is where a Fort Smith medical malpractice lawyer comes in.

If you think you or someone close to you is a victim of medical malpractice and you want to know if you have a case. Then read on. In this post, we will break down what makes a medical malpractice case and the factors that determine if you have a case or not. 

How Do You Know You Have A Claim For Medical Malpractice

Before you make a claim of medical malpractice against any medical care provider, you must be able to prove the following things.

Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship

First, you must prove that there was/is an existing doctor-patient relationship with the doctor in question. That means the mistake must have happened in the course of receiving treatment after the doctor agreed to administer medical treatment to the patient directly.

Negligence From the Doctor

A patient may be unhappy with the treatment received or the results of the treatment, but it doesn’t mean the doctor is guilty of medical malpractice. There can only be medical malpractice if the doctor was negligent in the diagnosis or treatment and deviated from the appropriate medical standard of care and skillfulness. To be able to sue for malpractice, you should be able to prove that the doctor caused you harm—given that, under the same circumstances, a more competent doctor would not have caused you harm. 

The Doctor’s Negligence Caused the Injury

Most cases of medical malpractice involve patients who are already sick or injured, which often poses the question of if an injury or harm is a result of the doctor’s actions, whether negligent or not. For instance, if a patient dies of brain cancer while receiving treatment, and the doctor was also negligent, it would be hard to prove that the patient died as a result of the doctor’s negligence and not from cancer. The family of the patient must prove beyond doubt that the loss was caused by the doctor’s incompetence. Usually, a medical expert is brought in for proper examinations. 

Other ways you can know if you have a case for medical malpractice are:

Absence of Informed Consent

There’s a certain level of possible complications or risks that accompanies most medical procedures. Before starting any treatment, the doctor is obligated to explain all forms of risks as well as the benefits involved so that the patient is fully informed. Then the patient can choose to either proceed or not proceed with the treatment. 

Typically, a patient can sue when:

  • The doctor proceeds with a treatment /procedure that the patient earlier objected to.
  • When the doctor does not give the patient sufficient information on the benefits and risks of a treatment or procedure.
  • When the doctor performs a procedure without informing the patients at all. For instance, if a patient has agreed to a kidney replacement surgery, and during the procedure, the surgeon spots and repairs damage to the second kidney without the patient’s consent. If the patient suffers any harm from the second repair, then there might be a case of medical malpractice, despite the doctor maintaining the standard of care required.

Unusual Complications

Although some complications may be expected from specific medical procedures, some may be unusual and can indicate that there was a mistake in the procedure. For example:

Suppose a surgery to treat uterine myoma (non-cancerous growth in the uterus) was carried out on a patient, and the patient responded well to the treatment. But weeks after the procedure, the patient complains of abdominal pain, fever, and bloating and is rushed back to the hospital. If, while carrying out a scan on the patient, the scan picks out a surgical instrument that was forgotten in the patient’s abdomen. 

In another instance, the doctor prescribes some antibiotics to help treat a patient with recurring infections but forgets to check the patient’s medical history. If the patient reacts negatively to the medication and then suffers shock as a result of it. Such cases are liable for medical malpractice claims as they also point to the doctor’s negligence.

The Doctor Owns Up to The Mistake

In accordance with the Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) program developed by The Agency for Healthcare Research as a way to help hospitals and medical practitioners address medical errors, doctors are expected to be honest and inform you of their mistakes when carrying out a procedure. 

The principles of CANDOR are:

  • A doctor should need to come clean with patients when a medical error happens 
  • Apologize
  • Offer a compensation
  • Investigate to know the cause of the errors. 
  • Frequently make the progress of the investigation known to the patience

Although the principles of CANDOR are commendable, not all healthcare providers comply with them, as a lot of hospitals still find it hard to admit an error on their part, especially if it results in the patient’s death. However, whether a doctor is honest about mistakes or not, the affected patient should not hesitate to talk to a lawyer. Healthcare institutes and providers are more likely to offer generous compensation when the patient has legal representatives.

Also, without legal representatives, some health care providers and institutions may try to intimidate the patients and stop them from filing a case of medical malpractice. If you suspect you may have a medical malpractice claim and don’t know how to go about it, then consult a lawyer. You can find excellent lawyers that specialize in such cases on our website:

Phil Votaw & Associates,

9 N. 9th Street Fort Smith Arkansas 72901,


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