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What are the elements of medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide adequate care. Lack of sufficient care can lead to harm, which can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

If you believe that you received substandard care, understanding the elements of medical malpractice is important.

Duty of care

When a patient seeks medical attention, there is an implicit understanding that the healthcare provider will offer competent and appropriate care. Accordingly, healthcare providers have a duty to provide treatment in line with accepted medical standards. This duty extends to surgeons, nurses, doctors and other medical professionals.

Breach of duty

A breach of duty happens when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in their field. This breach could involve misdiagnosis, medication errors, surgical mistakes or negligence. Any departure from the standard level of care may constitute a breach of duty.


Causation is an important element in medical malpractice cases. It requires establishing a direct link between the patient’s harm and the healthcare provider’s breach of duty. The patient must demonstrate that the provider’s actions, or lack thereof, directly caused their injuries or worsened their condition.

Harm or damages

The patient must also have suffered damages due to the healthcare provider’s negligence. Harm can take various forms, including physical injuries, lost wages, additional medical expenses, emotional distress or a decline in overall health.

Statute of limitations

The statute of limitations requires prompt filing of medical malpractice lawsuits. This timeframe varies by jurisdiction and may begin from the date of the alleged malpractice or the discovery of the harm. Failing to file within the statute of limitations can result in the inability to pursue legal action.

Medical professionals are prone to mistakes, just like anyone else. However, egregious oversights and serious lapses in judgment can result in legal action.