Medical negligence and your right to ask for compensation

If you visit a hospital or a doctor and you suffer losses physical or financial or even psychological due to the negligence on the part of the medical services provider, you may claim for compensation. Medical negligence happen a lot when the medical practitioner fails to take precautions. What has to be seen is whether those precautions were taken which the ordinary experience of men has found to be sufficient.

The established norm of medical negligence is that it includes any act or omission in treatment of a patient by a medical profession, which deviates from the accepted medical standard of care. The medical practitioners could be a doctor, dentist, nurse, surgeon or any other medical professionals who perform their job in a way that deviates from the accepted medical standard of care.

Three components of medical negligence and liability of doctor

A negligent act comprises of three main components.

1) Existence of legal duty;

2) Breach of legal duty

3) Damage caused by the breach of trust to patient.

However, the liability of a doctor arises not when the patient has suffered any injury, but when the injury has resulted due to the conduct of the doctor as he failed to provide reasonable care.

What you need to prove is that there has been existence of a duty and there was the breach of duty and the causation because when there is no breach or the breach did not cause the damage, the doctor will not be liable. Thus, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to first show what is considered as reasonable under those circumstances and then that the conduct of the doctor was below this degree.

There are some instances wherein the plaintiff need not prove anything. For instance, a swab left over the abdomen of a patient or the leg amputated instead of being put in a cast to treat the fracture, etc. In such situations the principle of ‘res ipsa loquitur’ i.e. the thing speaks for itself that the respondent was negligent.

Generally, the doctor is held liable for negligent act; however, he can also be held liable for the acts of another person which injures the patient as he somehow allows the others to cause damage to the patient as it is breach of duty. For instance, a doctor doing surgery leaving patient at the mercy of assistant when he knows he cannot do the surgery is medical negligence.