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Proving health care errors

A Pennsylvania patient who is considering pursuing a medical malpractice claim has to establish certain things in order for the claim to succeed. Medical malpractice claims are based upon negligence, and the elements are similar in many respects.

An initial threshold is to show that the health care practitioner or facility owed a duty of care to the patient. This can be established by showing that there was a contractual relationship between the provider and patient during the time the alleged malpractice happened in which the physician or other health care provider had a duty toward the patient. This may be provided by the patient's medical records.

The next thing that must be shown is that there was a failure to live up to the requisite standard of care. The health care provider must be able to show that the same skill and care was used on the patient as another who is in a similar practice might have used. For example, an orthopedist must demonstrate the same skill and care that other orthopedists might use under circumstances that were similar.

A patient who has been harmed by a doctor error or similar event will often have to face significant additional medical bills in order to rectify the situation. In many cases, the patient's financial situation will be made worse by the loss of wages resulting from an inability to return to work. An attorney who has experience in medical malpractice litigation might be able to determine whether negligence can be established through a review of the patient's applicable medical records as well as through the testimony of medical experts relating to the applicable standard of care.

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