When Pottsville residents suffer personal injury at the hands of others, it is vital that the other person be held accountable for his or her actions. This is especially true for professionals like doctors, who can have the lives of many patients in their hands.

Last week, this blog discussed the troubling number of doctor errors that occur in Pennsylvania and around the country. While these errors can cause great harm to the patient, doctors are often reluctant to disclose or admit to their errors.

This reluctance often continues on even after a medical malpractice action is commenced against the doctor. The doctor, hospital and others involved may continue to deny any wrongdoing, in fear of being held responsible and ordered to pay damages to the injured patient.

In order to show the surgical error or other error took place, and to overcome the denial of liability from the doctor, the patient can present evidence from an expert witness that demonstrates how the doctor deviated from the standard of care. In fact, under Pennsylvania law, there are certain provisions requiring another medical professional to become involved in the case.

Typically, a plaintiff must file a certificate with the complaint, or shortly thereafter, that supports the cause of action against the doctor. The certificate is in the form of a statement by a licensed professional stating that the doctor’s practice fell outside acceptable professional standards and was a cause in bringing about the patient’s injuries. While this professional does not have to testify at trial, the person must have sufficient education, training and experience to support the statement.

The certificate is one of many requirements a plaintiff must file in order to bring a successful medical malpractice action. Given the importance of these cases, it is vital that injured patients understand and follow these requirements to obtain the relief that they deserve.

Source: Pennsylvania Code, “Rule 1042.3 Certificate of Merit,” accessed on Aug. 6, 2016