Our readers in Pennsylvania may have heard that medical malpractice claims can be notoriously difficult. In many cases, that is true. However, as long as potential plaintiffs understand the basics of a medical malpractice claim, they will likely have a better grasp of their potential chances of success.

For starters, proving a medical malpractice claim is similar to many other personal injury claims in terms of the separate elements of such a claim: duty, breach of duty, causal connection and damages. But, the tricky part of a medical malpractice claim is establishing each of those separate elements, especially when highly technical medical terms are involved in the case.

In a medical malpractice case, the “duty” element usually refers to the existence of a doctor-patient relationship in the case in question. This can oftentimes be the easiest part of the case, especially when there is no doubt that the doctor or healthcare professional in question did indeed treat the patient. Establishing a breach of that duty, however, is where medical malpractice claims can become quite difficult. Usually, it must be established that the doctor or healthcare professional failed to adhere to a standard of care applicable to the medical treatment at issue in the case.

Next, it must be proven that, if there was indeed a breach of duty, the breach in question was the actual cause of the patient’s further illness or harm. Defendants will oftentimes rely heavily upon pointing to other causes. Lastly, the “damages” element of a medical malpractice claim refers to the injury, illness or worsened condition that the patient suffered due to the negligent or reckless actions or omissions of the healthcare professional.