What Is Required to File a Medical Malpractice Suit?

patient suit

Medical malpractice could occur in many ways and have potentially life-changing effects. In the worst of cases, a patient could die or suffer catastrophic personal injury, such as paralysis. 

Medical science continually improves. However, what is accepted as a medically correct diagnosis and treatment eventually could be proved wrong. But as long as the medical doctors, nurses, and other staff abide by accepted medical standards, there is no malpractice. 

However, when gross negligence becomes likely, a medical malpractice claim could arise. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer is the best resource for determining when a malpractice case might be strong. This discussion should help you to better understand what you need to file a medical malpractice claim. 

How to Build a Strong Medical Malpractice Claim

The initial steps to file a medical malpractice claim do not involve lawyers or courts. It involves contacting the relevant medical care provider and explaining the problem if the patient is still alive and relatively well. 

The medical care provider might be able to acknowledge an issue and help you to better understand what might have gone wrong during care delivery. It also might lead to a reasonable resolution, such as providing corrective services for little or no additional cost. 

If contacting the medical care provider does no good, you could complain to the Maryland Board of Physicians or other relevant licensing board. The board could notify the care provider and possibly initiate a resolution. 

If those reasonable steps are fruitless, you could initiate a state-level lawsuit against the offending parties. 

Obtain Evidence of Medical Malpractice

You cannot merely accuse a medical doctor or staff of medical malpractice and make it stick in court. You must carefully obtain evidence that malpractice truly occurred. 

You must show any injuries or illnesses resulting from the substandard medical care are commonly associated with the resulting medical condition. Without a direct and relevant link between the care provided and the resulting harm, there is no case.

Medical Standard of Care

All medical malpractice cases involve violations of the accepted medical standard of care. A doctor might make a mistake. All humans do. But that does not mean malpractice occurred. 

Medical diagnosis and treatment are not certain. Many times, a diagnosis is a highly educated guess that might be incorrect. However, the diagnosis must be within the parameters of an acceptable medical standard of care. 

Doctors need to be capable of making highly educated guesses when necessary to initiate treatment. Otherwise, it could be impossible to treat many patients. 

The standard of medical care could protect a physician who misdiagnoses a health condition. If the diagnosis was made using an acceptable standard of care and by using a reasonable level of medical expertise, a misdiagnosis does not automatically add up to medical malpractice. 

The same goes for the quality of care provided. If the care was delivered in a manner that is considered to be medically acceptable, no malpractice occurs.

That is true even if medical science eventually shows an accepted standard of care was incorrect. If the accepted treatment for a health condition years later is shown to be faulty, the doctors who prescribed them are not liable for medical malpractice.

Must Show Substandard Medical Care Was Provided

You cannot win a medical malpractice claim without showing a substandard level of medical care was provided to the patient. Many states have specific laws addressing the evidence for medical malpractice claims. Those laws generally require a written statement of evidence affirming medical malpractice. 

The statement must come from an acknowledged and relevant medical expert. If you can get a specialist to support the malpractice claim, you stand a much better chance of prevailing in court. 

Maryland requires plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits to obtain and provide a certificate of merit. The certificate must be completed by a qualified expert regarding the medical care in question. The expert must be experienced in the same medical field as the defending medical care provider. 

The certificate of merit must state that your malpractice claim has merit. An accompanying report compiled by the certifying medical expert should give details supporting your claim. 

The certificate of merit helps to prevent frivolous lawsuits and makes the settlement process less costly for both parties. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer could help to arrange the certificate of merit with a qualified professional.  

Prove the Plaintiff Suffered Harm

If you are injured and experience extended or ongoing health and financial issues as a result, those would be examples of harm caused by medical malpractice. But proving the harm is due to medical malpractice is different than claiming harm was done. 

You could prove harm occurred from the medical malpractice by obtaining the valid medical opinion of another qualified doctor. The doctor would have to diagnose your condition and the injuries suffered because of the malpractice. 

When the injuries suffered commonly are caused by the type of substandard malpractice received, that is evidence of harm caused by the substandard medical care. 

Common Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice has many potential applications. It generally refers to a negligent or medically substandard level of care that causes harm to the patient. The harm generally is a literal one in which the patient suffers physical harm that causes a variety of financial and other damages. 

Common examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Leaving a foreign object inside a surgical wound
  • Misdiagnosis of a medical condition
  • Using an incorrect amount of anesthesia or administering medication known to be a deadly allergen
  • Dropping a patient and causing injury
  • Failing to regularly turn an incapacitated patient leads to the formation of bedsores 

The malpractice could occur at any point during medical care and in more than one way. Also, the victims could be more than just the patient. 

The malpractice could cause a significant decline quality of living for an entire family. That is especially true if a head of household is incapable of working for a period or ever again. 

If a married person dies of medical malpractice, a surviving spouse could claim a loss of consortium among many other potential damages. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of intimacy and comfort that generally are associated with a truly loving relationship. 

Potentially Deadly Effects of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice could happen to anyone. Whether you are rich and famous or poor and relatively unknown, the effects of medical malpractice could be deadly. 

Comedian and actor Dana Carvey suffered medical malpractice during double bypass surgery. The surgeon bypassed one of the wrong arteries. Carvey filed a medical malpractice suit that was settled out of court. 

In a worst-case scenario, television personality and comedian Joan Rivers died during a somewhat routine gastric endoscopy procedure. Doctors intended for the procedure to enable them to monitor Rivers’ gastric reflux condition. 

An initial effort failed, and a second attempt resulted in Rivers suffering a heart attack. She died about a week afterward and never regained consciousness.

An autopsy performed by the New York City Medical Examiner said a lack of oxygen to the brain caused Rivers’ death. Rivers’ daughter successfully filed a lawsuit that showed the primary physician who initially attempted the endoscopy was not qualified to perform the procedure. 

The lawsuit also showed that attending staff did not immediately notice the reduction in oxygen to Rivers. When someone eventually announced her respiratory problem, the physician in charge insisted on continuing the procedure. 

An investigation revealed that many medical errors occurred and the standard of care fell below what is medically acceptable. Rivers died as a result, and the malpractice suit was settled out of court. 

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Patients Injured by Negligent Health Care Professionals

If you or a family member sustained injuries from medical malpractice, reach out to the experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our legal team will thoroughly investigate the care you received and hold medical professionals and systems liable. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.