Torts-Proximate Cause

In addition to proving that there was a breach of the standard of care by a doctor, the plaintiff must also show that the breach was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury. In the example of the puncture of the arterial wall by the catheter, the defendant may argue that even if that was negligence, the patient only had a 5% chance of survival and therefore was probably going to die anyhow. As such, any negligence that may have been committed was really irrelevant. This is a frequent defense raised in professional negligence claims and is frequently one that has some merit-the doctor may have been negligent, but the patient would have died anyhow. This reemphasizes the importance of the concept of proximate cause. That is, even though the doctor may have been negligent, the negligence may not have been a cause of injury since the patient may have suffered dire consequences in any event.

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