Sitting down with a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss a case will require understanding a lot of terminology. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the basic concepts of the field before you take a trip to a medical malpractice law firm. Here are four of the most important ones to learn about.
The Prevailing Professional Standard of Care
When a doctor and their insurance carrier attempt to defend against a claim, one of the most common defenses they use is that the doctor was working within the prevailing professional standard of care. It's important as a plaintiff to challenge this idea directly, but you also have to be prudent in how you assert your argument. For example, citing possible alternative forms of care that aren't common and weren't considered, such as experimental treatments, goes far outside the boundaries of malpractice. To be malpractice, a medical professional's actions have to be something a reasonable professional would consider negligent, reckless, or malicious.
Care, Competency, and Skillfulness
Presuming a medical professional chose a reasonable course of action that others might follow, there is another argument that can be made. It's not enough for a doctor to make good decisions. They must also execute their choices with a level of care, competency, and skill that their peers would consider appropriate.
If a surgeon went into an operation without sufficient sleep, for example, failures that occurred during the surgery might be considered careless. A similar example would be if a doctor knowingly used a procedure that's widely considered outdated, an act of potential incompetence. Likewise, a medical professional's basic skills matter, such as performing sutures and removing sponges from body cavities.
Once a doctor begins a procedure, a legally binding medical relationship is formed regardless of most outside factors. For example, a surgeon cannot commence a surgery and decide to stop performing it because someone in the accounting department has discovered that the patient has an unpaid bill. After beginning work, a doctor has moral, ethical, and legal obligations to conclude the job in as professional and thorough a manner as possible.
Each state has rules regarding how much advance notice a practitioner has to be given before a plaintiff starts a claim. This is intended to provide them with sufficient time to gather materials, consider their risk exposure and discuss the matter with their insurance company.