How to Determine If Someone is the Victim of Medical Negligence

Determining whether or not someone has been a victim of medical negligence is the first step in any medical malpractice case. While some people may think they have been a victim of medical negligence because they experienced an adverse outcome after receiving medical care, that is not always the case.

Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare provider, including doctors, nurses, dentists, and therapists, fails to use reasonable care or provide proper treatment due to lack of action or negligence. The negligence can occur at any time during the diagnosis, treatment or follow-up care for a condition or procedure.

In order to help determine whether someone has been the victim of medical negligence, there are several questions that must be addressed: did the health care provider owe a duty to the patient; did the health care provider breach standard care; was the breach of the standard of care the cause of the patient’s injuries; and the extent of the patient’s injuries.

Duty to Treat

Determining whether or not a healthcare professional had a duty to treat you is usually simple. If you were seeking medical help in a hospital, medical office or other professional healthcare setting, then the doctors have a duty to treat you with a certain standard of care.

Breach of Standard Care

A large part of proving that a patient has been a victim of medical malpractice is showing that the healthcare professional did not act within the same standard of care, that is, the appropriate level and type of treatment that a typical physician would provide in like or similar circumstances. This breach of standard care can take place at any time during your treatment. Examples could include:

• Not taking appropriate patient history
• Ignoring symptoms
• Failure to diagnose an illness correctly
• Not ordering necessary tests or screenings
• Misinterpreting or ignoring lab results
• Unnecessary surgery
• Errors in surgery
• Operating on the wrong patient
• Leaving objects inside a patient after surgery
• Prescribing the wrong medication
• Giving a patient the wrong dosage of medication
• Discharging a patient prematurely
• Providing inadequate follow-up care

In order to prove that a breach of standard of care has occurred, a healthcare professional’s actions must not follow the generally accepted methods, or methods that other professionals in their field would use, when treating a patient in a similar situation or with similar symptoms.


It is not enough, however, to simply show that you received negligent care from a healthcare provider. You must also prove that the negligent care was the direct cause of your injuries. Therefore, simply receiving negligent care and later suffering an unrelated or possibly unavoidable negative consequence would not constitute a medical negligence case. In order to create a successful medical negligence claim, the plaintiff must be able to show that if they had received the appropriate treatment, there would have been a high probability that their injuries would have been avoided.

Extent of the Injuries

Typically, the most successful medical negligence cases involve serious injuries that require extensive medical care or cause lifelong challenges for the patient. While every case is different, negligence that causes only minor injuries is not usually very successful in medical negligence rulings, as the injuries usually don’t cause a significant hardship and therefore aren’t awarded significant damages. In general, the more extensive the injury caused by the negligent care is, the stronger the case for medical negligence.

Find Out If You Have Been the Victim of Medical Negligence

Contact the Atlanta based attorneys of Kaplan & Lukowski, LLP if you or someone you know may have been a victim of medical negligence. To schedule your free consultation, please call (404) 845-0012, or fill out our online contact form.