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Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and many other countries. However, if you ask a typical person what medical malpractice is, they will be hard-pressed to explain it or know what it is. 

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed, injured, or dies due to negligence by a medical professional or institution. The negligence often involves an error that, if it were not made, there would be no harm caused to the patient. 

The medical professional or institution is expected to adhere to a standard of care. Failure to meet the standard could lead to a medical malpractice case. 

State laws about medical malpractice vary, which brings about a misunderstanding of the issue. 

The following are the basics of medical malpractice: 

Doctor-Patient Relationship

For there to be a medical malpractice claim, you have to prove the existence of a relationship between the doctor and the patient in harm. That means that you went to the doctor, had a consultation, agreed to be treated by the doctor, and the doctor agreed to treat you. 

Proving the existence of a doctor-patient relationship is one of the easier jobs for medical malpractice lawyers. There is often plenty of evidence to prove the relationship existed, including prescriptions, medical bills, and more.

Institution or Doctor Negligence

Another fundamental element of medical malpractice is negligence by the medical professional or institution. You and your attorney will have to prove that negligence led to a deviation from the standard of care, leading to injury or death. 

Establishing negligence is often about proving that the results would be different if another competent doctor were in the same situation. Proving negligence is one of the most challenging aspects of a medical malpractice case. It often has to involve presenting another medical expert to ascertain the negligence. 

Negligence Causing Injury or Death

After proving that there was negligence on the medical professional or institution’s part, you will also have to prove that their negligence caused harm, injury, or death to a patient. Doing so is quite tricky because most patients are often sick or injured when going to a medical professional or institution. 

Therefore, an essential yet challenging part of a medical malpractice claim is proving that the medical institution’s or professional negligence was more likely than not to lead to injury or death. If the defendant can prove that the injury or death was less than likely the doctor or hospital’s fault, the claim will fail.


Another basic element of a medical malpractice case is proving that the injuries caused by the medical professional or institution’s negligence led to substantial damages. Death is quite tangible, so it is often a more straightforward case. 

On the other hand, it can be tricky to prove that the harm the patient experienced led to damages such as physical pain, mental stress, lost income, lost business opportunities, medical bills, use of medical aids, etc. evidence of actual damages are crucial to a medical malpractice case. For example, payments to a psychiatrist can prove mental anguish. 


It is also crucial to understand the basic process of a medical malpractice case. First, the patient or an aggrieved loved one will file a lawsuit against the medical professional or institution with the help of their lawyer. 

There will be a period of discovery before the case goes to trial, including interrogations, depositions, and submitting various documents. The case does not have to go to trial and can settle out of court. 

However, without an agreement, the case will proceed to trial. A judge or jury will decide the case in court, where the defendant or plaintiff can appeal if they disagree with the decision. 

Medical malpractice is a menace to society and an issue that requires urgent rectification. The above are some of the basic elements of medical malpractice. You should consult an attorney to find out what will be involved in your specific case.