Why causation can be hard to prove in malpractice cases

June 10, 2019 | Crandall & Pera Law
Why causation can be hard to prove in malpractice cases

One of the most challenging elements of a medical malpractice claim is proving causation. Malpractice laws in Ohio say that plaintiffs must prove two things: that the defendant did not adhere to a generally accepted standard of medical care, and that this negligence led to the injuries in question. It is that second step that can make or break a case.

The reason is that some injuries can result even where there is negligence on the doctor's part. For example, almost any surgical procedure comes with foreseeable side effects. The surgeon may have been negligent, and the patient may have developed these complications, but correlation does not imply causation.

Orthopedic injuries, to take another example, can sometimes heal improperly, leaving patients with mobility limitations and other issues. These issues can arise despite the doctor's best efforts. Plaintiffs will only have a strong case if the doctor did something clearly negligent like failing to align the bone or choosing not to recommend surgery when it seems the best option.

In cases of misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses, plaintiffs have a responsibility to show that these mistakes really did harm the prognosis and treatment of the condition. This can be hard with a condition like cancer, which carries a high mortality rate to begin with.

If plaintiffs want to know if they have a good misdiagnosis case, then they may want to consult with an attorney. The initial case evaluation may clear up many things. Those who hire an attorney might have him or her negotiate on their behalf for a settlement that covers medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and whatever else applies. If the other side refuses to pay out or offers only a low settlement, then the attorney may prepare for a trial.