Medical malpractice lawsuits and the res ipsa doctrine

Physicians, surgeons and other medical professionals, even if they have years of education and experience, are only human and they can make mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes can seriously harm patients, or even make their condition worse than it was before they sought medical care. When this happens, it is important for victims in Pennsylvania to know that under circumstances, they may be able to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.

But, it is not always easy to prove that the medical professional committed malpractice. There is hope for those who are pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit though.

If a person suffers an injury that would not have taken place but for the negligence of the medical professional, even if the person cannot pinpoint the precise reason he or she was injured, then the doctrine of “res ipsa loquitur” can come into play.

This means that, under the doctrine, the person pursuing the medical malpractice lawsuit only needs to show that a specific result took place, and despite the fact that evidence of the specific result is not available, the result it would not have taken place unless the medical professional at issue was negligent. After this, it is the medical professional’s burden to prove that he or she did not commit malpractice.

Specifically, to prevail under res ipsa loquitur in a medical malpractice case, the victim must not be able to ascertain evidence proving the cause of his or her harms, but that the harms usually do not take place, unless a medical professional was acting negligently. In addition, the victim cannot have been responsible for the harms he or she suffered. It must also be shown that the medical professional had exclusive control over the events that resulted in the victim’s harms, and that these harms could not have been caused by anything else.

While it may seem like the likelihood of succeeding in a medical malpractice lawsuits is low, those who have suffered from an act of medical malpractice should not lose hope. With the right legal help, they can present a compelling argument to a jury to obtain compensation. While it may not always be easy, it is important to hold negligent medical professionals accountable for their actions.

Source:, “Proving Fault in Medical malpractice Cases,” accessed on May 13, 2017