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Medical Malpractice Cases: Proving Causation

Doctors and medical professionals are supposed to help us to feel better when we are injured or ill. A patient relies on a doctor’s care in order to treat or alleviate his or her medical conditions. Unfortunately, patients who are treated by a physician or other medical professional are sometimes left in a worse position than they were before the received care. When a person suffers injuries that are caused by a medical professional, the victim can be entitled to financial compensation through a medical malpractice case.

Proving Causation in a Medical Malpractice Case

In order to successfully establish your medical malpractice case, you must be able to prove that the medical professional who was treating you caused your injuries. Causation is an extremely important element in a medical malpractice case, as a patient will not recover damages from a case if he or she cannot prove that the injuries suffered were caused by the doctor in some way. 

Forms of Causation in a Medical Malpractice Case

A plaintiff must prove two forms of causation in order to establish medical malpractice. 

A patient who believes that he or she is the victim of medical malpractice must first establish that the medical professional’s actions were the “actual cause” of the patient’s injuries. Also known as “cause-in-fact,” proving actual causation requires a plaintiff to show evidence that the plaintiff would not have suffered the injuries sustained “but for” the medical professional’s negligence. A plaintiff can also demonstrate actual causation if the plaintiff can show that the injuries suffered were a foreseeable result of the medical professional’s actions. 

A plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must also be able to show that the doctor’s actions were a proximate cause of his or her injuries. Proximate cause is an action that results in another event occurring. Say, for example, that a patient visits his or her general practitioner because he or she is experiencing nausea, pain in the abdomen, and weight loss. The doctor orders a blood test for the patient, the result of which shows signs of pancreatic cancer. As the doctor has another appointment just a few minutes later, he glances over the lab work very quickly, failed to see the abnormal results, and told the patient that everything was okay. If the patient is later diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, the doctor’s actions could be the proximate cause of the patient’s injuries. 

In many medical malpractice cases, proving causation can be relatively straightforward. When a medical malpractice case is complicated by factors such as a patient’s preexisting condition or other factors that could have caused a patient’s injury, proving causation can become extremely difficult. No matter what injuries you suffered, one thing remains the same: the best choice that you can make after an injury stemming from a medical professional is to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. 

Injured by a Medical Professional in Philadelphia? We’re Here to Help

If you believe that you are a victim of medical malpractice in the Philadelphia area, the team of attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian is standing by to help you obtain the justice you deserve. To speak with a member of our legal team about your injuries today, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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