The duty of care in medical malpractice lawsuits
Missouri residents who file a medical malpractice lawsuit must be able to establish that a duty of care was owed to them by the health care practitioner or facility involved. If they are unable to demonstrate that such a duty was owed, they will be unable to seek compensation for any injury, loss or damage suffered due to doctor or hospital negligence. In addition to proving that a duty of care existed, the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit must show that the medical professional or facility involved failed to meet this duty.
As all doctors, nurses and therapists owe a duty of care to their patients, plaintiffs can establish a duty of care was owed to them by providing medical records showing that they were being treated by the medical professional in question at the time of the alleged medical professional negligence. Plaintiffs can also rely on other evidence, such as witness testimony, to establish that a duty of care was owed.
Proving that physicians failed to meet this duty of care can be more challenging. Plaintiffs must show that the medical professionals involved lacked or failed to apply knowledge or skills that would be expected of them. Doctors are judged by what they are expected to know and do, and this expectation is based on what other doctors in the same field would have known or done.
One of the main hurdles facing plaintiffs in a medical malpractice lawsuit is the reluctance of physicians to draw attention to the mistakes of their colleagues. When witnesses to a doctor or a hospital mistake are uncooperative, an attorney may call upon independent medical experts to provide insight into the sequence of events. Attorneys may also seek input from doctors in the same field to determine if the treatment provided to their client was appropriate.