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Proving causation: an obstacle to many malpractice claims

Medical malpractice refers to the failure of a doctor, nurse or other medical professional to act according to a reasonable standard of care. If this leads to a patient being injured, then the patient may have good grounds for a claim. California residents should know that this second step, the step of proving causation, is not always easy.

There are many cases where a correlation may be pointed out but not causation. For example, someone undergoes surgery, the surgeon makes a mistake, and the person develops a complication. If that complication is known to arise even when all goes well with the procedure, then patients cannot assume a link between negligence and the injury.

Patients who incur an orthopedic injury are sometimes prevented from making a similar assumption. It is a fact that fractures will sometimes heal improperly despite the doctor's diligence. This can leave patients with issues, including limited mobility. Unless the issues can be linked to a clear act of negligence like the failure to use plates, screws and rods to set the bone, there is no case.

Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses can affect the prognosis of a condition and diminish the effect of subsequent treatments. However, this is hard to argue regarding a condition like cancer, which requires extensive treatments.

Almost any potential medical malpractice case may benefit from a case evaluation, so victims or their families might want to consult with a lawyer. The lawyer may have the knowledge and the personnel necessary to prepare the claim and bolster it with evidence. Victims may let their lawyer speak on their behalf at the negotiation table or in the courtroom. In the end, they may be reimbursed for their losses, including past and future medical expenses, lost wages and physical suffering.

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Law Offices of Neil M. Howard
717 North Douglas Street
El Segundo, CA 90245

Phone: 424-259-4807
Fax: 310-452-6810
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