What is Medical Negligence?

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Researcher: Ariana Arce​

Researcher: Ariana Arce​


Journalist: Aaron Vivanco

Journalist: Aaron Vivanco


Editor: Daniela Polo

Editor: Daniela Polo


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What is Medical Negligence?

When a medical professional or institution fails to provide adequate care to a patient, the law may retain them negligent. Medical negligence can happen when there are actions or omissions on the provider’s end, in taking precautions, measures, or decisions regarding a patient. 

When these factors occur, individuals may take the legal path, by filing a medical negligence lawsuit. Read on to understand how this procedure works, who may be responsible for the damages, and how to proceed when filing a lawsuit. 

How Do I Know If I Were Affected by Medical Negligence?

It depends on each situation, but a rule of thumb is finding out if an action or inaction negatively affected your health or physical and/or mental integrity. Then, there are typically four elements to look for to establish a case of negligence:

  • The defendant breached the duty he was supposed to carry out. 

When there is a patient-to-healthcare provider relationship and the latter, by accident or on purpose, fails to follow the established care standards set by their profession, there is a breach of duty. 

  • The plaintiff endured the negative health consequences of those actions or omissions.

When the action or lack of creates health repercussions in the patient, in the form of an injury or illness, then there may be a case of medical negligence. 

  • The injury was caused by the defendant’s breached duty. 

When the breach of duty or the failure to accomplish those duties adequately was the reason why the patient suffered the injury. Here, the plaintiff has to prove an association between the injuries and the defendant’s action or omission. 

What Evidence May Prove That Medical Negligence Caused My Injury?

It isn’t always easy to prove medical negligence, because the plaintiff may have had preexisting conditions that may be the real cause for the injury, and also because sometimes the medical staff needs to make haste decisions to save a patient’s life. Nevertheless, there is basic evidence that the potential plaintiff needs to gather to file a medical negligence lawsuit: 

  • Medical History

This official document can show the court that there weren’t previous diseases or injuries connected to the injury caused by medical negligence. A medical history can also demonstrate the treatment or action that was prescribed or performed by the health provider and caused the injury. 

  • Lab results. 

If there were blood draws, urine tests, and other lab analyses there may have been. 

  • X-rays, radiological exams, or CT scans. 

They are useful especially when they can show the area affected by medical negligence. 

  • A background check of the defendant.

Sometimes, medical professionals have prior claims of negligence or other similar charges against them. If this is the case, this evidence may turn the scales in your favor. 

  • Medical experts as witnesses.

Most times, testimony can be a game changer. These witnesses give great support to your claim. 

As mentioned above, looking for evidence is not always straightforward, as you need to be sure that the defendant was negligent, as well as to determine who, from all those who provided you care, is responsible for the injuries. 

This is why an experienced medical negligence lawyer can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process. Contact us for a free consultation. 

What Are Examples of Medical Negligence?

There are countless situations in which medical negligence may happen. Examples of those circumstances are:

  • A misdiagnosis or a wrong prescription

Let’s say your doctor told you to take Tylenol while pregnant and failed to warn you about the higher risks of having a child with ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) and/or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Then, he may be retained as responsible for the outcome. A delayed diagnosis can also be a cause. 

  • Wrong amount of anesthesia during surgery

Whether for prescribing the wrong amount of anesthesia or for failing to acknowledge that the patient is allergic to certain types of the drug, the medical provider may be held responsible for the negative consequences or injuries. 

  • Bad decisions during childbirth

If labor the doctor fails to make the right call during childbirth -such as going for a c-section on time- and this causes injuries to the mother or baby, that may be a cause for a medical negligence lawsuit. 

  • Lack or insufficient care post-surgery 

When a surgical procedure goes as planned, but the aftercare isn’t enough or is inexistent, the consequent injuries could be a reason to sue for medical negligence. 

  • Unauthorized procedure

When a doctor or other health professional performs a procedure and doesn’t ask for authorization from the patient or a patient’s relative, they may be held responsible for medical negligence. 

  • Errors during surgery

Medical negligence during surgery may happen when there is a perforation of internal organs that weren’t supposed to be touched, or when the medical staff leaves a surgical item inside the patient’s body. 

What is The Deadline for Making a Medical Negligence Claim?

The law gives an injured patient from medical negligence two to five years from the event or diagnosis to file a lawsuit, which will depend on the statute of limitations of each state. In any case, acting fast is better: if too much time passes between the incident and the lawsuit, gathering evidence may become more complicated.