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How a careless surgeon can be held accountable for damages

Louisiana surgeons are some of the best in the nation and have treated thousands of patients successfully. Patients go to these doctors regularly, trusting them with their health and their lives. However, in rare cases, surgeon negligence has caused patients serious injury and sometimes even death.

When a medical professional is negligent, it is referred to medical malpractice. When medical malpractice occurs, the patient may file a lawsuit against the doctor or surgeon in order to recover damages for their injuries. In order to file a successful lawsuit, there are certain elements that must be present. First, the physician must owe a duty of care to the patient. Typically, when a doctor voluntarily agrees to treat a patient, a doctor-patient relationship is established. The doctor then owes the patient a duty of care and is required to treat the patient with the degree of skill, care and diligence required of a reasonably competent physician under the same circumstances.

Next, there must be a breach of that duty of care. The breach must also result in the harm of the patient. An example would be a fatal surgical error which was ultimately preventable. Courts will consider the circumstances of each medical case and look at how a reasonably competent physician would have behaved in those same circumstances.

If the court finds that the doctor is guilty of medical malpractice, the doctor is liable for any injury that the patient suffered as a result of his negligence. The doctor may have to pay damages to cover the patient's medical bills, lost wages and other expenses. However, the patient must bring their suit within the statute of limitations of their state. In Louisiana, the civil statute of limitations is usually one year. Medical malpractice lawsuits help prevent doctors from treating patients with anything less than adequate care and give victims of this negligence some financial compensation.

Source: FindLaw, "Medical Malpractice Overview," accessed on June 23, 2015

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