Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide the requisite standard of care, and this substandard care results in harm, injury or death.
For a medical malpractice claim to be successful, the claimant has to prove that the healthcare professional – such as a physician, surgeon, anaesthetist, nurse or technician – deviated from the norms and standards applicable to the diagnosis, treatment, medication or follow-up care of the patient.
If a healthcare professional acts or fails to act in a way that is contrary to what any other reasonable medical professional would do in the same or similar circumstances, the professional’s action / actions could amount to negligence.
The burden of proof
As with all personal injury claims, the burden of proof lies with the claimant.
A medical malpractice claim is viable only if the claimant can prove, in most cases, on the basis of expert medical opinion, that:
- a healthcare professional failed to provide the requisite standard of care and injury, harm or death occurred as a direct result of this
- the injury or harm suffered resulted in significant losses, such as considerable pain and suffering or disfigurement, loss of income and/or additional medical / treatment expenses; OR
- a patient did not provide informed consent for a medical procedure, and the medical procedure resulted in serious harm or injury.
Common incidents of medical malpractice
Medical malpractice usually involves unintentional, albeit negligent, error on the part of a healthcare professional. Some common examples of medical malpractice involve
- mistaken diagnosis
- prescribing the wrong medication or an unsuitable dosage
- leaving swabs or surgical instruments in a patient after surgery
- operating on the incorrect limb or side of the body
- providing incorrect treatment, management or aftercare.
What to do in the case of medical malpractice
Proving medical malpractice is a specialist task best left to experienced personal injury lawyers. This is often one of the most difficult types of cases to prove in court.
DSC Attorneys is a Cape Town based law firm with a proven track record in personal injury law, acting for clients throughout South Africa and internationally. DSC Attorneys also operates on a “no win, no fee” basis.
If you think you’re due compensation for any harm or loss resulting from inferior medical treatment or care, contact DSC Attorneys today and we’ll review your case details to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to take legal action.