You went to the doctor with inexplicable symptoms, and you were prescribed a medication. It turns out that the prescription led to complications and more illness. In fact you are in worse shape now than when you visited the doctor initially. Can you sue for this injury?
Prescriptions can be the basis for a medical malpractice suit. But there’s more to malpractice than just a doctor making a mistake. The only way your suit will succeed is if you can prove that your doctor acted negligently in prescribing the medication, a claim which involves multiple elements.
Not an Exact Science
As you may know from visiting doctors, medicine is not an exact science. It involves some trial and error, as different patients respond differently to medications or treatments. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare, and the law does not punish doctors just because their efforts may fail.
What the law punishes is negligence in medical treatment. This means that if a doctor fell below the standard of care that a reasonable doctor in the same or similar circumstances would exercise, and a patient is injured as a result, and the other elements of negligence can be shown, then a patient’s claim for a negligent prescription may succeed.
Elements of a Suit
Medical malpractice is a type of negligence claim. In negligence suits, the plaintiff must first show that there was a duty of care owed by the defendant who breached that duty, and that this breach caused the plaintiff a compensable harm. Typically the elements are broken down as follows — duty, breach, causation and harm (also known as damages).
With medical malpractice, it is reasonably easy to prove the first element, duty. If you are under a doctor’s care, the physician has a duty of care to the patient. But everything thereafter becomes more complicated in medical malpractice. This type of claim usually requires expert medical witnesses and can be expensive to prosecute and prove, however, you should not that deter you.
Consult With Counsel
Plaintiffs’ injury attorneys often handle claims, including medical malpractice cases, on contingency. That means the lawyer’s office covers the expenses of the case and only recovers this investment if you win or settle your claim. The amount of money a lawyer can claim through contingencyis limited by law, although the laws vary from state to state, and plaintiffs run little risk beyond entrusting their case to the wrong lawyer.
If you or someone you know has been injured due to negligent prescription, or some other form of medical malpractice, speak to an attorney. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your claim.
- Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury)
- Documents for Your Attorney: Illness and Hospitalization (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Information for Your Lawyer: Medical Background (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Time Limit Considerations in Medical Malpractice Claims (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)