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NC Medical Malpractice Cases Seldom Speak for Themselves
The field of medicine is not an exact science. In many cases, doctors must look at countless details to diagnose and treat their patients, and even the highest standard of medical care cannot guarantee perfect medical results. Charlotte medical malpractice lawyers need to pay similar attention to details to protect their clients’ rights to compensation. Without presenting convincing expert witness testimony and other solid evidence, potentially-valid claims may not even make it to trial.
A Recent Case That Was Not as Obvious as it Seemed
A December, 2014 North Carolina Court of Appeals decision illustrates that even seemingly obvious medical negligence claims require more evidence than may appear necessary. In this case, a patient went to a rehab facility with incorrect medication orders. After she ingested the prescribed combination of medications, the patient experienced “an episode of somnolence and lethargy” for several days, which was the basis of the lawsuit.
The patient’s complaint provided no expert witness testimony to support that the medications would have the negative results experienced by the patient. Using the theory of res ipsa loquitur, which means the thing speaks for itself, the case essentially claimed that the actual prescription list would obviously support a case of medical negligence. The court disagreed and dismissed the case and the appeals court upheld the dismissal.
The Importance of Strong Evidence in Medical Malpractice Cases
Res ipsa loquitur is a common-law theory that is seldom valid in medical malpractice lawsuits. Still, it plays an important role in legal cases that meet the following criteria:
- An individual sustains injuries when direct proof of the cause of the injury is not available
- The defendant had control over the details involved in the accident
- The injury is of a type that does not ordinarily occur in the absence of some negligent act or omission.
In this case, the medication order was available, so it could easily have been reviewed by an expert witness. Just as important, a jury would not have the medical knowledge to logically make a connection between the drugs and the injury. Unless some of the jury members had medical knowledge, they could not arrive at a verdict without expert witness testimony that explained the connection between the drugs and the resulting illness.
Victims of Medical Negligence Need Highly Experienced Legal Support
Considering the complexity of medical malpractice legal cases, injury victims need to seek support from lawyers with the experience to understand the medical and legal issues — and develop cases backed by detailed evidence. Developing effective cases requires exceptional attention to medical detail; individuals who believe they suffered injuries due to medical negligence should talk to attorneys with the following traits:
- A past record of successful results in medical negligence claims
- Medical personnel, such as nurses, on staff
- A network of skilled medical resources to assist with case research and provide expert witness testimony