As a previous post highlighted, the negligence of a medical professional could be detrimental on the health and wellbeing of patients in Montana and elsewhere. When a nurse, doctor or a surgeon fails to uphold their duties to a patient, this could result in worsened medical conditions or new medical complication. However, when a patient is harmed due to medical errors and mistakes, how can liability be placed on the medical professionals that were treating them at a medical facility?

How can patients prove fault in medical malpractice cases? While human errors exist in everything that humans do, when medical mistakes occur, these are often related to negligence. Therefore, injured patients need to show that medical professionals were negligent and did not perform at a certain level of proficiency or professionalism. In other words, medical professionals are held to a certain standard of care, and when they fail to meet that standard, he or she could be held responsible for the harms resulting from this.

In order to establish that medical negligence occurred, a patient must prove that a medical professional owed them a duty. This means that there was an established doctor-patient relationship. Next, there must be a breach of the duty owed to the patient. Third, a patient must show a causal connection between the breach of the medical professional’s duty and the injury incurred by the patient. Finally, the patient must have been actually harmed.

In some matters, establishing a proof for wrongdoing can be difficult; however, in cases where the type of injury the patient suffered would not have occurred but for the negligence of a health care provider, a patient could use the legal doctrine known as “res ipsa locquitur.” This means that the thing speaks for itself, implying that the patient only needs to show that their particular injury would not have occurred but for someone’s negligence.

Dealing with the aftermath of a medical error or mistake can be difficult for injured patients. A patient will likely be dealing with more medical treatment and care, which means more medical bills. In these matters, it is important that patients explore their options and recourses available. He or she might be able to hold a negligent medical professional liable for the harms done to them.

Source:, “Proving Fault in Medical Malpractice Cases,” accessed April 18, 2016