Negligence is something that must be established in a medical malpractice case, but it is not the only thing that must be considered. While a doctor may have been negligent to a patient, that doesn’t always mean that the negligence is what caused injury or harm. The law requires a connection between negligence and injury. An injured patient will not succeed in his or her lawsuit if that connection—known in law as causation—is not proven.
For the causation element of a medical malpractice case to be fulfilled, the ‘breach’ of the accepted standard of care within the professional practice field in question must ‘cause’ something bad to happen—‘bad’ here meaning something that can be translated into legally compensable damages. Determining causation in a medical malpractice case can be very complicated, and often requires the involvement of an experienced Long Island medical malpractice lawyer.
Determining causation: A solid example
Consider this example: a doctor views an X-ray and fails to diagnose a malignant, cancerous tumor in its early stages. At such a stage, the cancer could have been treated, perhaps even allowing a patient to successfully recover from the condition. Instead, the cancer was never diagnosed, and the patient died as a result. In such a case, a breach of the accepted standard of care exists, and this breach was the cause of the wrongful death of the patient.
The other side of the coin
That being said, there are times when such a breach is not the cause of wrongful death, nor of personal injury. Consider the above scenario again, only this time assume that the cancer was already in its late stages, and therefore, untreatable. Even if the doctor failed to diagnose it, his breach of the accepted standard of care was not what led to the condition. As such, no damages were suffered by the patient.
These are only two prime examples and medical malpractice cases are rarely that cut-and-dry. The complexity of medical malpractice, most especially the part wherein causation must be determined, is why you need the help of highly skilled Long Island medical malpractice lawyers. It’s important to have an attorney with you early in your case to vie for a favorable outcome.
(Source: Medical Malpractice Causation Revisited, Bill of Health)