When Is it Considered Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to professional negligence in the health care industry. Medical malpractice can cause serious and even fatal patient injuries. It is a type of mistake or misconduct that would not occur under the care of reasonable and prudent physicians and hospitals. As the victim of alleged medical malpractice, you have the right to pursue financial compensation under Minnesota civil law. To obtain a settlement, however, you or your attorney will need to prove that the situation fulfilled the definition of medical malpractice.

Minnesota Statutes Section 541.076

By law, the definition of medical malpractice in Minnesota is an action by a patient or former patient against a health care provider, for alleged malpractice, error, mistake, or failure to care. Minnesota Statutes Section 541.076 gives this definition, along with a four-year statute of limitations on bringing medical malpractice claims. The law further defines health care provider as any physician, surgeon dentist, hospital, treatment facility, or health care professional.

Medical malpractice in Minnesota can refer to any action or failure to act that falls outside of a health care provider’s typical duties of care. If you suspect a doctor or hospital of negligence or recklessness that you believe caused your recent injuries or illness, speak to an attorney about a potential medical malpractice case. A lawyer can break down Minnesota’s laws and help you find out if you have grounds for a case.

Four Elements of Proof

The civil courts in Minnesota will only grant a plaintiff a compensation award for alleged medical malpractice if the plaintiff (or his/her attorney) can prove that the malpractice existed. It is the plaintiff’s burden of proof to provide evidence that the defendant’s actions or inactions meet the definition of medical malpractice according to state law. The courts may consider an incident medical malpractice if the plaintiff can demonstrate four main elements.

  1. A patient-doctor relationship existed. In the eyes of the law, the doctor or health care center in question must have owed you a professional duty of care. A doctor-patient relationship must have existed at the time of the alleged incident.
  2. The doctor breached the medical standards of care. The plaintiff needs proof that the doctor or hospital acted outside of the accepted standards of care for the medical industry. Medical experts generally need to testify to prove this element.
  3. The breach of duty caused the damages. Not all poor patient outcomes give the patient the right to file a medical malpractice claim. The patient must have proof that the defendant’s actions directly caused the injury or illness in question.
  4. The patient has real, compensable damages because of the defendant. Finally, the plaintiff must have evidence of suffering specific damages because of the malpractice. Damages can include physical injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

The courts will only rule in a plaintiff’s favor during a medical malpractice claim if all four of these elements exist, along with a preponderance of evidence supporting the victim’s case. If you do not have evidence that proves all four elements, your experience may not constitute medical malpractice. A lawyer can help you gather evidence and prove the four elements of care in court.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

If you are not sure whether your experience fulfills the burden of proof for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Minnesota, a lawyer can review your case and give you an answer. In the meantime, reviewing common types of medical malpractice can help you decide if you have a claim.

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to provide adequate patient care
  • Lack of informed consent to a medical procedure
  • Surgical mistake or anesthesia error
  • Medication mistake
  • Birth injury

If you have questions on whether you or a loved one’s injuries or illness meets the elements of a medical malpractice case in Minnesota. Call (507) 344-8888 or complete a contact form online.