Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence, specifically the negligence of a medical provider. Negligence means that an individual had a duty to act in a certain way but failed to do so.

Standard of Care

The first element of a medical malpractice case is to establish what the “standard of care” was for the provider. The standard of care means what the accepted practice was for a physician, surgeon, nurse, etc., under the circumstances of your medical care.  For example, was it the generally accepted practice for a physician to order a certain test but the doctor failed to do that? Should a doctor have seen something on a radiology film but missed it? Did the doctor diagnose one condition, but failed to consider another condition that was in fact what you were suffering from?

Breach of the Standard of Care

The next element of a medical malpractice case is establishing that there was a breach of the standard of care, sometimes also called a deviation from the standard of care. There are many ways in which the standard of care may be breached including a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis, a delay in responding to a medical emergency such as those occurring during pregnancy or birth, surgical mistakes, and mistakes in prescribing or administering medications.


The third element of a medical malpractice case is proving that the deviation from the standard of care was a direct and substantial cause of an injury or harm to you. There must be some connection between the actions or inactions of the medical providers and the injuries you suffered. The elements are like links in a chain: each must be connected to the other to complete the chain and prove that a doctor or medical provider is legally responsible or liable for your injuries.


The last element of a medical malpractice case is that you must prove that you have been either seriously or permanently injured or harmed.

Each of these elements must be established and supported by an expert, or someone in a similar field of work as the defendant medical provider who is knowledgeable about the accepted medical practice and standards of care.