Categories: Law

6 Defenses To Prove Your Innocence In A Medical Malpractice Case

By Eva H
August 3, 2016

A medical malpractice claim against you is a very trying and thoroughly unnerving scenario if you are a physician or a healthcare service provider. Your entire career may be at risk, and you fear to lose the goodwill that your practice has painfully garnered over the course of several years.

Do not lose hope, because a medical malpractice lawsuit need not be the end of hope. There are many instances where physicians have been unfairly sued, and they have managed to prove their innocence before the law.

There are several reasons why a patient sues. He or she may sue due to an absence of desired treatment outcome, misplaced expectations, faulty communication between doctor and patient, or grave errors on the part of doctors – such as leaving behind instruments in the body of patients after surgery.

If you are innocent and have not breached your duty of care, then there is no reason why you should not be acquitted. Here are a few ways through which you can prove that you did not commit medical malpractice.

1) Rejection of Expert Testimony

Medical malpractice cases are not handled by every attorney. When an attorney takes up a patient’s case, he or she does so only after seeking expert opinion, and making sure that the patient was indeed a victim of medical malpractice. But, sometimes expert witnesses and testimonies prove to be wrong or unreliable.

One of your strongest defenses is that the plaintiff’s expert opinion is not based on accepted scientific principles, or that the qualification and credentials of the expert are not satisfactory.

2) No Grave Harm Caused to Patient

If no grave harm or injury has occurred to the patient as a direct result of alleged malpractice, then the physician can change the focus of the case from whether malpractice was committed to whether the patient suffered any harm due to the treatment.

If it is proved that the patient was not injured or harmed by medical negligence on part of the physician, then even if convicted of malpractice, you will have to pay only very minimal damages. This defense is also known as reduction or elimination of damages.

3) Standard Negligence Defense

Medical malpractice is a type of medical negligence, and you can defend your case if you prove that the care you provided was in line with what a similarly qualified and experienced medical professional would provide in your area. This will help prove that you did not breach the standard of care owed to the patient. Also, remember that standard of care does not stand for perfection in practice. Oberheiden Law Group – Dallas Criminal Defense Attorneys say that these are complicated legal defenses, and you will require services of experienced legal professionals to prove them.

To prove medical malpractice, the duty to provide the standard of care should have been breached and there should be an injury directly caused as a result of it. Only when both of these are present in a cause-result relationship will it be possible to prove medical malpractice case against a doctor.

4) Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence occurs when the patient is also partly liable for the injury that resulted from medical negligence. The patient may not disclose his or her full medical history, causing the doctor to prescribe unsuitable medicines. Additionally, if the patient does not follow the doctor’s post-treatment recommendations, he or she may end up aggravating the condition and causing injury.

In such cases, the defendant can counter the claim with evidence to prove that the patient did not exercise the caution that is normally expected from a patient in a similar situation.

If contributory negligence is proven, the doctor will not be held responsible for having caused the patient’s injury; the malpractice case will be dismissed.

5) Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations lay down guidelines as to how long a person can wait before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In most instances, the law states that the maximum period between the discovery of injury and filing of claim should not be more than two years. If the patient waits longer, the statute of limitations will run out and the claim cannot be made. If you can prove that the injury was discovered at a certain point in time and the claim has been made after the statute of limitations has run out, you will be able to defend yourself successfully.

6) Respectable Minority Principle

Medical malpractice claims are often raised against practitioners of alternative streams of treatment or therapy.

There is an element of risk involved in these streams of treatment, and patients sue for malpractice when they suffer injury or harm as a result. The defense of respectable minority principle can be used by a physician to prove that the new or radical method of treatment that was employed to cure the patient is supported and validated by a respectable minority of medical professionals. So, you did not breach the standard of care expected from a similar qualified and experienced professional practicing same medical stream.

Faulty or fake medical malpractice claims can be countered if physicians and practices are able to present their defense well. Do contact an attorney who will be able to relieve you of the stress of handling the nitty-gritty details of the case. And do not fret, because today, the law gives a fair chance to medical professionals as well, leaving the onus to prove the case on the plaintiff.

Guest Post by:

Elizabeth Stepp is Senior Counsel at Oberheiden Law Group PLLC, one of the leading criminal law firms in Dallas, Texas. She graduated from the prestigious Yale Law School. She has much experience in dealing with financial services litigation and professional malpractice cases.

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