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When a malpractice claim is brought against a medical professional, the emphasis of the claim is placed not on the result of any care provided, but on the standard of care. Ultimately, a medical malpractice claimant would have to demonstrate that the standard of care provided was below that expected of a trained professional.
In the majority of jurisdictions, an “acceptable standard of care” would be considered to be one which complied with the codes and principles recognised by a responsible medical association, such as the BMA or General Medical Council. If a medical practitioner is found to have been compliant with such standards, then there is no medical malpractice.
However, it is not enough for a patient to merely demonstrate that they received substandard care, or that the results of the treatment were poor. They must be able to prove that it was the poor performance of a medical professional that caused the unsatisfactory result.
This process is known as causation and is usually based on the evidence of an expert witness. It is this stage, proving a direct link between the actions of a medical professional and the harm a patient experiences, which often proves to be the most difficult aspect of a medical malpractice claim.