Surviving relatives of a victim of medical malpractice may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable health care practitioner and facility. Connecticut law sets forth the burden of proving the elements of this cause of action.
A claimant bears the burden of proving that the health care practitioner's alleged actions represented a breach of the duty of professional care in a standard medical malpractice claim by a preponderance of evidence. This standard is that level of care, skill and treatment, which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonable similar health care practitioners.
This standard has to be the prevailing standard of care at the time the treatment was rendered which applies to diagnosis and treatment. Connecticut requires expert testimony to determine the standard of care, that the defendant's actions violated that standard and that the violation was the proximate cause of the injuries claimed in the lawsuit.
Health care practitioners are held to the same standard of care applicable to their medical field across the United States. The state where the defendant and any expert witness practiced in unimportant.
A good medical result is not guaranteed in treatment. A poor medical result, alone, is not evidence of a health care practitioner's wrongdoing. The issue is whether the practitioner breached the prevailing professional standard of care.
Connecticut also provides for a loss chance of survival claim. Plaintiffs must demonstrate, by a preponderance of evidence, that the deceased patient was deprived of a chance of survival and that the decreased chance of survival more likely than not resulted from the health care practitioner's negligence.
It must be demonstrated that the patient would have had a greater than 50 percent chance of survival without the practitioner's professional negligence. Proving that the negligent conduct deprived the patient of some chance of survival is insufficient. If the patient would have likely died with proper treatment, the alleged negligence was not the cause of the death.
Prompt legal advice should be sought to assist families in these complex matters and to help assure that expert testimony is obtained, proper damages are calculated and that filing deadlines are met. Legal assistance helps protect families in settlement negotiations and legal proceedings.
Source: State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, "Civil Jury Instructions: 3.8-3 Medical malpractice," Retrieved Dec. 29, 2014