Patients rely on doctors for medical care precisely because we do not have the knowledge or expertise to perform surgery, diagnose disease or provide emergency services. So how can we possibly know if something went wrong? The answer: consult with an attorney who confers with qualified doctors. Medical malpractice litigation is a classic battle-of-the-experts situation. As attorneys, we evaluate your case and consult with expert witnesses before even filing a lawsuit. Expert witnesses in this context are other doctors in the relevant medical specialty. These doctors engage in legal work in addition to treating patients, writing peer-reviewed articles and often teaching. These doctors are experienced in reviewing medical records for legal cases, providing opinions in support of one side or the other, and testifying in a deposition or trial.
Experts in the relevant medical specialty can evaluate pertinent medical records and determine if something patient’s doctor did or did not do fell below standard of care. A doctor’s actions fell below standard of care if he or she failed to act as a reasonable and prudent health care provider in Arizona would under similar circumstances. Of course, not all bad medical outcomes mean the medical provider’s conduct was negligent. There is a certain amount of professional judgment involved in medical decisions, but providers’ actions, protocols and advice must fall within acceptable practices in their area of medicine in this state. General types of medical malpractice lawsuits can include: failure to diagnosis serious conditions, surgical errors, birth injury, and medication mishandling.
Hospitals and facilities that provide medical care are also governed by industry standards. Sub-standard care can go far beyond the front-line doctor and may be a result of one or more of the following: insufficient staff or budget, poor training, inadequate policies and procedures, bad management and deficient record-keeping. Often other entities such as hospitals and facilities, management companies, staffing agencies and administrators/executive directors are involved in lawsuits, in addition to physicians. It is important to speak with a lawyer experienced in this area to determine whether your injury was likely caused by medical malpractice and, if so, who may be legally responsible.