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When a patient may have a malpractice claim

Health care providers in New York have a significant responsibility for the well-being of their patients. Their duties are something like a legal contract with those they serve, and if they do not fulfill them as a reasonable person in that position would, they may be guilty of negligence.

According to the American Bar Association, a health care provider's negligence could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim. There are a number of factors that affect whether or not the actions or behaviors constituted negligence, and still more to determine if the actions led directly to an injury, or if other circumstances contributed.

The ABA explains that a person considering litigation may want to review every interaction he or she had with the provider in question. The circumstances of a person's illness or injury are typically of paramount importance in a malpractice case.

For example, perhaps a patient complained of particular symptoms that would prompt most doctors to order a certain test, and his or her doctor did not. The results would have indicated the person needed aggressive treatment, but because the doctor did not order the test, the diagnosis was missed. Consequently, the patient's condition became much worse. In this case, the court may determine that the doctor is liable for the patient's pain and suffering, prolonged medical treatment and expenses, lost wages and other damages. 

Other factors that may be relevant include whether the patient reported all symptoms and followed all treatment protocols that the doctor recommended. Because outcomes from medical treatments vary from person to person, a patient who does not recover from a procedure as well as someone else does may not necessarily have a medical malpractice case. The failure to recover must be the direct result of negligent actions of the doctor.

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