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Is there a clear-cut way to prove medical negligence?

The relationship between a doctor and patient can be idiosyncratic. The law attempts to define a professional standard of care through prevailing industry standards. Experts may attempt to articulate that standard by testifying to recommended treatment options. Deviations might be characterized as medical negligence, perhaps giving rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit in the event of patient injury. Yet the fact remains that differences of opinion among doctors can arise.

In a recent profile, a medical professional described her occasional frustration at inheriting patients from other doctors. The doctor admitted that she sometimes disagreed with the medications or diagnostic tests that had prescribed for a patient. In her professional opinion, she might decline to authorize a refill of certain prescriptions, or believe that certain magnetic resonance imaging orders were unnecessary for a particular symptom. 

Our office focuses on medical malpractice litigation, and we know that medical errors can give rise to injuries and potential liability. Yet when opinions differ among health care providers, can a patient seeking compensation for injuries obtain evidence that will establish a clear-cut standard of care?

Fortunately, a court of law can be a forum for getting answers. There are certain objective standards, such as state licensing and credentialing. In addition, many professional societies and hospitals issue guidelines or best practices for the treatment of certain conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the watchdog for prescription drugs, and a responsible doctor should generally choose from the FDA’s list of approved prescription medications. 

Finally, our attorneys understand that litigation strategy can go a long way toward proving a successful medical negligence claim. Our website offers examples of various approaches we have taken in cases to help patients bring a strong medical malpractice claim.

Source: The New York Times, “When the Influence of a Patient’s Former Doctor Lingers,” Abigail Zuger, June 8, 2015

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Joel L. Katz, L.L.C.
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