Medical malpractice law is written in order to protect people from injuries that are caused by the negligence or intent by a healthcare professional, such as failure to provide the needed treatment (McClellan, 1994).
It is required by the law, of medical practitioners and other professionals to live up to the minimum standards of care. When they do not and injuries do occurred, they can be held legally and financially liable. The law in California has shifted sharply towards protecting the providers of healthcare rather than the patients from the negligence.
Under the law, a physician is required to posses and exercise, in both diagnosis and treatment, that reasonable degree of knowledge and skill which is ordinarily possessed and exercised by other members of his profession in circumstances that are similar. The duty imposed by the law on the hospital or health facility is that it must exercise such reasonable care toward a patient as his mental and physical condition requires.
Professional negligence can arise at any time when a profession has caused harm or damage to another through their professional actions or service. The standard of care which the acts of a medical practioner are to be measured is a matter unique within the knowledge of the practice and as such can only be proved by the testimony of a professional unless it is so common to the knowledge of the man on the street.
An example would be like in this case where One of Dr. Williams’ patients, Joan, suffers injuries as a result of an error by Dr. Williams. Such facts do not need scientific enlightment to show that actionable negligence has been committed. This is different from situations where just because a patient did not achieve certain results from the services they had sought which do not result to professional negligence automatically.
Sometimes it is not reasonably possible for a person to discover the cause of an injury, or even to know that an injury has occurred until considerably after the act which causes the injury. It is thus possible that to extend the time that is set (Danzon, 1985).
Under California law, medical malpractice actions must be filed within a year from the date o the patient knew of the injury or three years from the date of the actual injury although these too may be extended where it is deemed to be reasonable by the court.
As a witness therefore, medical records will be the most important when required to formulate an opinion on the case and explaining this information in order to maintain credibility as an expert witness and also as an eye witness. There may be challenges of serving as a witness in a malpractice case such as this especially when explaining the science involved to the jury (Aspatore, 2009).
Aspatore Books (2009). The Role of Expert Witnesses in Medical Malpractice Cases: Leading Experts on Utilizing Expert Witness Testimony, Understanding Technical and Scientifi. p. 17. Thomson West.
Danzon, P. M. (1985). Medical Malpractice: Theory, Evidence, and Public Policy. p. 23 Harvard University Press.
McClellan, F. (1994). Medical Malpractice: Law, Tactics, and Ethics. p. 2. Temple University Press.
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