Iowa doctors and other health care practitioners are expected to reach a certain level of professionalism and proficiency. When the required standard of care is not met, the patient may have a claim for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice cases are dependent on a theory of negligence, which means in part that the defendant allegedly failed to meet a required standard of care.
The elements of a medical malpractice claim are that a duty existed between the health care professional and the patient, that the duty was breached, and the patient was harmed as a result of the breach. In order for a court to determine that a health care professional was negligent, the injured party must demonstrate that the medical care provided fell below the generally acceptable standard of care. The demonstration often requires the testimony of a medical expert in the same field. The expert will usually testify regarding the acceptable standard of care and the failure of the defendant health care professional to meet that standard.
One of the most common areas of medical malpractice is in the prescription of medical devices or medications. Health care professionals may be liable for damages if they prescribed drugs or devices without heeding the instructions of the manufacturer or if the incorrect treatment or dosage was prescribed. Pharmaceutical companies may also have liability for medication errors, but only where they failed to provide proper warnings of dangers or side effects.
People who have been harmed due to the action or inaction of a doctor may have claims for damages. An attorney who handles medical malpractice cases might be able to help by gathering evidence and deposing expert witnesses to build a case for trial if a settlement cannot be reached.