The Limited Use of Inferred Negligence in Medical Cases (Medicolegal Issues)

The Limited Use of Inferred Negligence in Medical Cases (Medicolegal Issues)

With the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, negligence can be inferred in situations in which there is no direct evidence of negligence or wrongdoing. In the context of health care liability claims, a res ipsa loquitur allegation may cause a health care provider some degree of anxiety because expert testimony on the applicable standard of care and a breach of that standard of care is not necessary. Concern about res ipsa loquitur allegations in a health care liability claim is often needless, given that this doctrine has limited applicability in such circumstances. Res ipsa loquitur is not a cause of action but a rule of evidence (1). For res ipsa loquitur to be applicable, the claimant must produce evidence from which a lay jury could conclude, by a preponderance of evidence, that the incident resulted from negligence and was the responsibility of the defendant (2-4). The Texas Pattern Jury Charge, which is used by lawyers and judges to determine the appropriate submission of issues to a jury at trial, proposes the following model instruction to assist the jury in answering whether there was negligence in a res ipsa loquitur case:

The Limited Use of Inferred Negligence in Medical Cases (Medicolegal Issues)



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