Patients who undergo heart surgery in the United States have a higher chance of survival than ever before. Unfortunately, complications can still arise that result in serious disability or death. If you or someone you love underwent a failed heart surgery, you may be wondering if you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against the at-fault surgeon or hospital.
Although this question cannot be answered until a thorough investigation has been performed, you may find it helpful to know the elements that must be proven in order to prevail in such a case. These elements are:
1. A Healthcare Provider-Patient Relationship Existed
To prevail in any medical malpractice claim, it must be shown that the healthcare provider owed the patient a duty of care. This duty of care is express—not implied—which means it does not exist until the healthcare provider-patient relationship has been established. The patient’s medical records should be sufficient for proving a duty of care existed.
2. Accepted Standards of Care Were Not Followed
Just because a heart surgery was unsuccessful does not necessarily mean the surgeon made an error. To prevail in a medical malpractice case, it must be shown that the provider deviated from the most widely accepted standards of care. This deviation from the standards of care is called “negligence.”
In other words, you’ll have to prove that a healthcare provider—such as a heart surgeon—with the same specialization would more likely than not have acted differently under the same circumstances. It must then be shown how this breach of the standards of care resulted in damages.
3. Breaching the Standards of Care Caused Damages
Even if it can be shown that the surgeon or another member of the healthcare team was negligent, you will not be able to recover compensation unless damages were actually incurred. For example, if the surgeon made a mistake but caught the error before any complications arose, no award of damages would be warranted.
Proving causation is often one of the most challenging aspects of winning a heart surgery malpractice case. Because patients already have an underlying medical condition, it may be difficult to discern whether the complications arose due to this pre-existing condition or due to the medical provider’s negligence. Therefore, to prove causation, your attorney will have to perform a thorough investigation and most likely will need to bring in a medical specialist to provide deposition.
After demonstrating causation, your heart surgery malpractice lawyer will have to prove the kinds of damages incurred and their value. This may also require the testimony of a medical expert and perhaps that of an economist who can determine the value of lost future earnings. A seasoned attorney will have access to these experts and will know how to get the most value out of their testimony.
Seeking Legal Counsel for a Failed Heart Surgery Lawsuit in Florida
If you intend to file a medical malpractice claim following a failed heart surgery, contact Emerson Straw for representation. Our lawyers have more than 70 years of combined experience in legal practice and have recovered over $27 million for clients in personal injury and wrongful death cases. To set up a free consultation, call our 24-hour phone line at (727) 821-1500 or send us a message online.