Causation an important issue in medical malpractice litigation

In our last post, we began speaking about a medical malpractice case in
which the family of a man who died of cancer is suing a physician who
failed to detect the presence of cancer. The family is claiming that the
physician’s negligence meets the causation requirement because
the man lost the opportunity to receive treatment that would have likely
extended his life a number of months. On the defense side, the argument
is that the man’s death was in sight, and that the factor of causation
was therefore not satisfied.

The issue of causation can be an important one in
medical malpractice litigation, not only when there is a dispute about the proper test for causation
but also when there are multiple factors contributing to a patient’s
injuries. Â These multiple factors can potentially include not only
the actions of the physician, but also the actions or omissions of other
healthcare providers, as well as the patient’s own condition.Â

Another important factor with causation is the burden of proof. Establishing
causation in a medical malpractice case can be made more complicated by the
language that is sometimes used around the issue. Â For plaintiffs, the requirement in medical malpractice
litigation is to demonstrate that it is more likely than not that the
accused physician caused the plaintiff’s injuries. This is the
ordinary civil standard, and it is important that plaintiffs build their
case in a way that effectively maintains that burden of proof rather than
unintentionally increases it. Â

Of course, any medical malpractice plaintiff is going to have a better
shot at building a strong case if the plaintiff works with an experienced
and knowledgeable advocate. The first step, then, is to secure the right
advocate, and then build the strongest case possible.Â


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