A false accusation of medical malpractice can be devastating to a medical professional's practice. Defenses are available for those who face these accusations.
Four common examples include:
- Within accepted standard of care. Generally, medical malpractice claims fall within the purview of negligence. Within the legal theory of negligence, an alleged victim of medical malpractice must establish that the accused failed to meet the accepted standard of care. A patient that cannot establish this point will not have a viable claim. As such, the physician could build a defense to show that his or her actions were well within the accepted standard of care.
- Proximate cause. In addition to demonstrating the care and treatment of a patient was outside the standard of care, a plaintiff will also have to establish that the physician's actions outside the standard of care caused the injury. This is often referred to as the "but for" test -- "but for" the treatment outside the standard of care the patient would not have suffered the injury.
- Medical distress. In the event that the care that was provided that led to the alleged injury occurred in a rescue situation, Good Samaritan laws will likely go into effect. These laws are designed to shield those who, while in a civilian capacity, go to the aid of those in distress. This includes medical professionals like physicians.
- Statute of limitations. Time is also a factor. In order for a medical malpractice claim to move forward, it must be brought forward within an accepted period of time. The amount of time allowed will vary depending on the state. In New York, a patient generally has 2 ½ years from the date of the alleged malpractice.
Building any one of these defenses is a complex matter. Furthermore, a strong defense will likely include more than one of these or other defense strategies. As a result, it is wise for those who are facing allegations of medical malpractice to seek legal counsel. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will advocate for your interests, tailoring a defense strategy to aggressively defend your professional reputation.