We recently outlined the three elements you have to prove to win a medical malpractice case: negligence, causation, and damages. How exactly do you prove them? We explain here—starting with negligence.

Medical negligence is unreasonable conduct by a healthcare provider that harms a patient. You, therefore, have to prove that your healthcare provider acted unreasonably. That’s a two-step process.

The Standard of Care

First, you have to prove reasonable care. Reasonable care is what typical, reasonable medical providers do when treating patients under the same or similar circumstances. For example, if a patient comes to the emergency room (“ER”) with an altered mental status that came on suddenly, a reasonable ER physician would consider a stroke a possibility and order appropriate tests. What reasonable healthcare providers do is called the “standard of care.”

Violation of the Standard of Care

Second, you have to prove that your provider’s care was substandard, meaning it violated or fell short of the standard of care. In other words, you must prove that your provider failed to do what reasonable healthcare providers generally do in the same situation. In the example above, if the physician decides not to order appropriate imaging studies (essentially gambling with the patient’s life), the physician likely violated the standard of care for diagnosing or ruling out a stroke. Violating the standard of care can also include a lack of communication between healthcare staff. In those cases, critical information isn’t relayed properly or timely, resulting in negligent behavior.

The Bell Law Firm represents clients who have suffered death or catastrophic injury in medical malpractice and other personal injury cases.