You have probably heard the term medical malpractice many times, but, do you understand what it actually means? In simple terms, it is an act of professional and medical negligence by a healthcare professional like a doctor, physician, surgeon, nurse, or other that results in physical or emotional distress to a patient and their family.

When medical malpractice occurs, the healthcare professional has failed to provide an acceptable standard of healthcare services resulting in the affected patient or their families filing a lawsuit to claim compensation for their injuries.

Here are the four key elements that need to be proven in case of a medical malpractice lawsuit.


When a relationship is established between a doctor and a patient, it is the duty of the doctor to provide proper care to the patient. The duty of proper care is owed by the doctor to the patient. The patient’s care becomes the duty and responsibility of the doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional overseeing their treatment. It is the duty of the doctor to provide the most logical treatment plan to the patient suffering from an illness or injury. In most medical negligence cases, the doctor has overlooked an effective method of treatment.

Breach of Duty

Whenever a doctor completes their graduation from a medical college, the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ is taken. This oath mentions that the doctor will fulfill the duty to provide the best possible treatment to their patients. If the doctor fails to perform their duty, they breach the Hippocratic oath, which is called the breach of duty in medical negligence.

For a medical malpractice case, the doctor can breach their duty of care in several ways. Some of these include:

  • Prescribing the incorrect medication or dosage.
  • Leaving a foreign object (surgical instrument) inside the body of the patient during surgery.
  • Wrong diagnosis or failing to diagnose an illness.
  • Failure to recognize the warning signs or symptoms of a medical condition.

Injury or Illness

In this element, the patient needs to have suffered a physical or emotional injury or illness when under the care of the medical practitioner. The lawyer will try to prove a relationship between the patient’s injury and the doctor’s negligence. In some cases, the cause of the damage is visible. For example, a surgeon operates on the liver of the patient instead of the kidney. The injury caused to the patient may be a new one or an aggravation of an existing injury or illness.


Damages are the last element in a medical malpractice case. This element involves seeking monetary compensation due to the act of negligence of a doctor. In a medical negligence case, the medical malpractice lawyer needs to prove that damage to the patient has been done because of the doctor’s carelessness and negligence.

For a medical negligence case to stand a chance of winning in court, all four elements need to be proved. If you or your loved ones have been a victim of medical negligence, you can approach a medical malpractice lawyer to file a case against the doctor or hospital.



Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice LawBirth Injury LawTrucking Accident LawPersonal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at or call 865-637-3531.

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