What is the Strongest Defense Against Negligence By a Doctor?

by Jan 3, 2020Medical Negligence

When you or a loved one is the victim of medical negligence, your whole life can be turned around. Victims of medical negligence may never be able to live exactly the same as they did before the incident, whereas the medical professional involved can be completely unaffected. In fact, medical negligence is a normal part of working in the medical field, especially depending on what type of medicine a person practices. Because of this, many doctors are prepared to defend themselves before negligence even occurs.

In medical negligence cases, there are a few different defenses that are used. These defenses can be used even when it is proven that medical negligence occurred. Here are a few of the strongest defenses that can be used to help defend doctors.

Patient Negligence

Even if they have been the victim of medical malpractice, patients are expected to make efforts to limit the damages they have faced. This is the same even in personal injury cases. When receiving medical treatment, doctors frequently give their patients rules and guidelines to follow to help keep themselves healthy. If patients are given explicit rules from their doctor and choose not to follow them, doctors cannot be held accountable for any damages that may have come from it. Although the doctor may have been the cause of some of the damages a patient has faced, they may use the defense that the patient brought on many of the damages themselves. This can reduce the amount of compensation that a victim is owed. 

Respectable Minority Principle

For many different health concerns, there are favored treatments and procedures that have become the standards. However, not every health problem has an accepted treatment that is effective. Because of this, some doctors may choose to provide their patients with treatments that are not as widely used. In addition, they may also decide to use treatments and procedures that are a higher risk. Although these are high risk, these procedures could be a patient’s best chance of receiving effective treatment. Choosing to do a riskier procedure that is not typically recommended does not necessarily mean that the doctor was negligent if problems arise. These procedures need to be backed by a respectable minority of medical professionals who can defend the treatment. However, patients always need to be informed about the risks that they are taking and consent before their doctor can begin treating them. 

Absence of Causation

In some cases, a doctor can act negligently and a patient might face damages, but they are not always caused by the doctor’s actions. There are times when a patient would have had these damages regardless of what the doctor did. This can be seen at times when a doctor misdiagnosed a patient. The patient might have more complications due to their condition or pass away from it, but occasionally a diagnosis would not have helped. Doctors are not always able to provide a treatment that can heal patients, so the end result might have been the same regardless of whether or not they were diagnosed.

Statute of Limitations

The time when a victim notices that medical malpractice has occurred can vary from person to person. While each person’s case is different, they must adhere to the statute of limitations for medical negligence claims. In many states, the statute of limitations to report medical negligence is around two years from the time the event took place. However, many victims don’t realize right away what has happened to them. Some might not realize issues or complications until two years or more after the initial incidence of medical negligence. Because of this, the deadline can be extended so that the statute of limitations begins two years after someone should have realized that they have been the victim of medical negligence. Doctors may argue that a victim should have realized that medical negligence occurred long before they reported on it. Even if medical negligence can be proven, the statute of limitations may have passed.

Good Samaritan Laws

If you are away from home when a medical emergency happens, your hope is that help is able to arrive quickly. In what seems like a best-case scenario, there may be a medical professional in the vicinity who is off-duty, but who offers or feels compelled to help. Occasionally when this happens, mistakes might be made that leave the victim with complications. Good Samaritan laws may be used to defend doctors in what would otherwise be classified as medical negligence. Since it was an emergency situation and it was not the doctor’s responsibility to treat the person, it can be said that they had a duty of care. While doctors have more protection when they are acting as good Samaritans, they still need to provide the same level of care that any other competent medical professional in that situation would.

If you suspect that your injury or your child’s injury may have been caused by medical negligence, please fill out the form below or contact us for more information.

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