Medical Malpractice: Claim Requirements and Common Types


Many patients suffer serious injuries each year because of their healthcare provider’s negligence. When a medical provider’s treatment deviates from the standard of care expected of medical professionals in the same practice field and geographic area, a patient who is injured as a result can pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation. However, before a patient can recover damages in a malpractice claim, he or she will be required to meet his or her burden of proof. Here is some information about the requirements and some common types of malpractice claims from the malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia at Raynes & Lawn.

What Do Plaintiffs Have to Prove?

Being dissatisfied with the outcome of your treatment does not necessarily mean that you have valid grounds to file a claim. Instead, plaintiffs in malpractice cases are required to prove the legal elements of these types of claims before they can file lawsuits and recover compensation. The elements of medical malpractice include the following:

  • Existence of a provider-patient relationship
  • Treatment provided deviated from the standard of care
  • Provider’s negligence caused the injuries
  • Specific damages resulted

If you cannot prove one of these elements, you will not be able to recover damages.

Existence of a Provider-Patient Relationship

Before you can file a lawsuit, you must have formed a provider-patient relationship with the medical provider you believe was negligent. This type of relationship is formed when you go to a medical provider for care, and he or she agrees to treat you. There will not be a doctor-patient relationship if you engaged in casual conversation with a physician at a party and acted on whatever he or she said when he or she did not agree to treat you. You cannot sue a medical provider if you were not under his or her care.

Treatment Deviated From the Standard of Care

Medical providers are expected to provide treatment that meets the standard of care expected of similarly situated providers in the same field and geographic area. When a doctor’s treatment deviates from the expected standard of care, he or she is considered to be medically negligent. The expected standard of care varies, depending on the field of practice and the area in which the provider practices. For example, a general practitioner in Philadelphia would be compared to reasonably competent general practitioners who also practice in the city rather than to general practitioners in a rural area. Proving that a doctor’s care deviated from the expected standard of care

requires you to get the help of a medical expert to determine the standard of care and provide an opinion about how the treatment you received failed to meet it.


You must also prove that the doctor’s negligence caused your injuries. If a doctor made a medical mistake that did not injure you, you will not have grounds to file a malpractice claim. Your injuries also cannot have been caused by an intervening event. Instead, you must present evidence showing that your injuries were caused by the doctor’s negligence.

Specific Damages

Finally, you must be able to show that you sustained specific damages. Damages are economic or non-economic losses you suffered because of the medical provider’s malpractice. Your damages might include the following types of losses:

  • Costs of additional treatment or surgery because of the malpractice
  • Wage losses caused by missing work because of your injuries
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma/mental anguish
  • Disability
  • Reduced ability to enjoy life
  • Disfigurement/scarring
  • Loss of consortium for spouses
  • Loss of guidance for surviving children in wrongful death cases
  • Lost inheritance rights in wrongful death cases
  • Reasonable funeral and burial costs in wrongful death cases
  • Loss of the contributions the deceased victim would have made over his or her life if he or she had lived

Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice can occur in numerous ways. Some of the most common types of malpractice are described below.


Misdiagnoses are common types of medical errors that can result in viable malpractice claims. A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor provides the wrong diagnosis to a patient. For example, a doctor might have diagnosed you with the wrong condition, leading to you receiving unnecessary treatment that caused you to suffer harm.

Delayed Diagnosis

A delayed diagnosis occurs when a patient receives the wrong diagnosis initially or a doctor fails to diagnose the patient. The patient then does not receive necessary treatment until much later, and his or her condition might have worsened during the interim. For example, if a doctor does not diagnose cancer during its early stage, the patient’s cancer might have progressed to an advanced stage by the time he or she receives the correct diagnosis.

Failure to Properly Treat

In some cases, a patient will receive the right diagnosis but will not receive the right treatment. A doctor’s failure to properly treat a patient can take many forms, including failing to provide correct follow-up recommendations, discharging a patient too early, or failing to prescribe the right medication.

Failure to Warn

Doctors must provide patients with informed consent before they undergo treatment. Informed consent means that a doctor must explain the risks of the procedure before you agree to undergo it. If a doctor failed to warn you about known risks, and you would not have agreed to the treatment if you had known about them, you might have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim.

Other Common Types of Malpractice

Some of the other types of medical malpractice include the following:

  • Surgical errors
  • Wrong-site or wrong-patient surgery
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Reading lab results incorrectly
  • Prescription errors
  • Failing to check a patient’s medical history to look for potential interactions or allergies
  • Birth injuries

Consult a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered injuries or lost your loved one because of a doctor’s negligence, you should talk to an experienced malpractice attorney at Raynes & Lawn. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 1-800-535-1797.

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