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Attorney Greg Deans and Attorney Katie Stepp
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Can you raise these defenses in your medical malpractice case?

On Behalf of | Jul 28, 2023 | Tort Litigation

Hospital negligence and medical malpractice claims are filed against doctors and medical institutions daily, and the threat posed by them can be substantial. Mere allegations of errant medical care can severely damage a hospital’s reputation, and a judgment entered against a healthcare entity can take a massive financial toll. To avoid those outcomes as much as possible, it’s imperative that these organizations know how to aggressively defend themselves.

Can you use any of these malpractice defenses in your case?

Medical malpractice cases are highly nuanced. As a result, the way you approach your defense is going to heavily depend on the facts at hand and the allegations that have been levied against you. However, as you prepare to enter the legal arena, you should carefully consider whether you can effectively raise any of the following defenses:

  • Avoidable consequences: In some medical malpractice cases, patients errantly attribute their harm to a doctor or hospital’s mistake, when in reality they are responsible for their own damage. This is especially true in situations where a patient is placed on restrictions following an operation, but they fail to adhere to those restrictions, thereby resulting in significant injuries.
  • Substantial minority principle: If a doctor is accused of providing care that improperly deviated from the applicable standard of care, then you might want to consider whether you can argue that the care provided conformed to the substantial minority principle. Here, you’ll need to show that, although the course of treatment isn’t widely used in the profession, it’s supported by a smaller but reputable number of professionals in the field. The focus here is on showing that, despite its limited use, the course of action taken was viable.
  • No deviation from the standard of care: Just because something goes wrong during medical treatment does not mean that medical malpractice has occurred. A patient may have had a bad reaction to medication, or their body might’ve simply struggled to recover from an extensive surgery. Carefully analyze the applicable standard of care in your case and how medical professionals did their best to adhere to it to find ways to build your defense.
  • Focus on the plaintiff’s evidence: Although the plaintiff will present their evidence as if it’s foolproof, there’s a good chance that it’s flawed in some fashion. By scrutinizing it, you might be able to identify shortcomings that give you an opportunity to attack. Remember, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, so any inconsistencies that you can point out in their case will be powerful in your defense.
  • Assumption of risk: Chances are that the plaintiff in your case was adequately educated about their condition and their options for treatment, thereby leading to informed consent. In these instances, you might be able to effectively argue that the patient assumed the risk of being injured if they were properly informed of that risk. That’s why it’s crucial to obtain written consent prior to treatment when possible.

Be ready to counter the medical malpractice claim levied against you

An improperly handled medical malpractice defense can cause a significant amount of damage to your business. Although that can be stressful, you might be able to mount a successful defense that limits or perhaps even completely avoids liability.

But in order to develop the strongest defense under the circumstances, you’re going to have to know the law and how to navigate it in an advantageous fashion. With that in mind, now is the time to educate yourself on the process and the steps you can take to position yourself for success.