Martin + Fielding

The 3 elements of a medical malpractice case

Oklahoma City residents undergo complicated surgeries all the time and -- in most cases -- the doctors who perform them do not make errors. In some situations, though, a surgeon will make a serious mistake that results in unnecessary injuries.

When a doctor makes a mistake due to negligence or due to not following standard medical procedure, the patient may be able to pursue financial compensation in Oklahoma civil court.

To prevail in such a claim, the plaintiff will have to prove three vital medical malpractice elements:

1) A health care provider was giving you medical care

The first element you need to prove in your medical negligence or surgical error case is that you were receiving medical care from a health care provider. That provider might have been your family doctor who performed your annual checkup and failed to order tests when he noticed a cancerous lump. The physician caring for you might also have been a surgeon who performed a routine hernia repair on your abdomen, but accidentally left a surgical sponge inside your belly.

2) The health care violated the accepted standard of care

The accepted standard of care is something that has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. The question always is: Did the medical care provider who was diagnosing, treating or advising you provide medical care in the way that another reasonable person with his or her qualifications in his or her position would have done?

If your doctor was performing a risky brain surgery, and the brain surgery didn't have the hoped-for result, the doctor might not be at fault if the surgery was reasonable given your condition. However, if the doctor made a mistake out of negligence or lack of attention that was not a reasonable mistake given the circumstances, then it might fall outside the standard of medical care, and you might have a viable claim for medical malpractice damages.

3) You suffered an injury or worsened condition

Your doctor making a mistake or committing medical negligence alone is not enough for you to make a claim for damages. The doctor's error needs to have led to an injury or a worsening of your condition. If you can establish that you were harmed as a result of the medical malpractice, you can seek financial compensation for that harm in court.

File your medical malpractice claim as soon as possible

As with all personal injury lawsuits, strict time limitations -- known as statutes of limitation -- apply to all medical malpractice cases. As such, if you suspect you have a viable malpractice claim, you may want to discuss the facts of your case with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to evaluate how much time you have left to file your suit.

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