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Nobody’s perfect, not even doctors and other medical professionals. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Medical malpractice occurs when a provider deviates from a recognized standard of care in the treatment of a patient, and the patient suffers an injury. A medical malpractice claim can result from a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Failure to diagnose. A medical professional failed to detect a patient’s illness or made a diagnosis that resulted in a poor outcome for the patient, a diagnosis that another competent medical professional would likely have made.
  • Failure to warn. A doctor recommended a particular procedure or course of treatment to a patient but failed to warn the patient about the known risks involved and the patient was injured, or might have elected not to have the procedure at all had he known of the risks.
  • Improper treatment. A doctor treated a patient in a way that no other competent doctor would have prescribed, or administered an acceptable treatment in an unacceptable way.

Most medical malpractice cases are brought under the theory that a medical professional was negligent in the way they treated a patient. To establish medical negligence, a plaintiff must prove:

  • That a duty of care, such as a doctor/patient relationship, existed
  • That the health care professional had a duty to provide an applicable standard of care and breached his duty to provide such care
  • There was a relationship between the medical professional’s breach of duty and the patient’s injury
  • That the plaintiff sustained damages because of this breach

For a medical professional to be found negligent, it must be shown that his conduct fell below a generally accepted standard of care. Only then will the injured patient be able to recover damages.

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