Why is Causation the most Difficult Element of Medical Malpractice to Prove?
In the case of a surgery, there are a number of complications a patient can develop that are known and accepted risks of the procedure and can still occur even when the surgery is performed within the standard of care. Therefore, it is often difficult to prove within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that a bad surgical outcome was “caused” by negligence of the surgeon.
Similarly, in the case of a delayed cancer diagnosis, the doctor obviously did not “cause” the cancer. Certainly, most cancers require substantial and extended medical treatment and carry a significant mortality rate. In a medical malpractice case where the plaintiff alleges that a doctor’s misdiagnosis or untimely diagnosis caused harm, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the patient’s prognosis, treatment or ultimate outcome are worse because of the delay. Again, this is often difficult to establish.
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