What is the Medical Standard of Care?

There are many people who are seriously injured because a medical professional made a mistake that was entirely preventable. When this happens, it may be difficult to know whether the error would not have occurred under other circumstances and whether there is the potential to pursue a successful legal action against the doctor or other medical provider. One of the ways in which it is determined that there was medical malpractice was whether or not the provider violated the established standard of care for a person with similar background and training under comparable circumstances. This is referred to as the standard of care.

When evaluating whether or not an act or omission falls within the category of medical malpractice, it is important to realize that there are things that are going to happen that are not going to be considered negligent, even though they were not anticipated. This is why doctors often discuss the various risk factors with patients and obtain informed consent before moving forward with a particular course of treatment. There are times when complications could not have been prevented by even the most skilled physician acting at or above the customary standard or care, which is why it is important to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who understands the evaluation process and can provide an understanding of what cases may not be appropriate for a malpractice action.

The Medical Standard of Care

When looking at whether medical negligence was the cause of harm, it is often to evaluate the competency of the doctor, nurse, therapist, pharmacist, hospital, or other medical provider. To do this in general negligence cases, courts have adopted the “reasonable person” standard. This standard was looks at what a reasonable person would do under certain circumstances. However, many medical malpractice cases are based on customary behavior of physicians or other medical providers under similar circumstances, which is viewed as different from a reasonableness standard. Customary care does not guarantee a perfect outcome as medical treatment may not lead to a favorable result even if the medical professional did everything possible to provide appropriate care. Although the customary behavior varies depending on who the medical provider is, what type of care or treatment is being provided, and under what circumstances the care is rendered, it is possible to discuss the standard broadly.

The standard of care only becomes an issue when something has happened and a person has experienced harm as a result of the action or omission of a medical provider. It is a legal term, so it is used in conjunction with analyzing or making a claim against a medical provider after something has already happened, as opposed to being used by the medical field to establish a particular standard for performing specific tasks. In order to establish the standard of care in a medical malpractice case, there is an expert who testifies, usually someone on the same field as the individual who allegedly committed the malpractice, about what a medical provider with the same background and knowledge would have done under the same or similar circumstances. The divergence of the acts or omissions of the individual who committed the error from this hypothetical customary behavior of an average provider is part of the evidence of the negligence that was committed.

The Standard is Going to Depend on the Jurisdiction

There are many variations between the states when it comes to medical malpractice cases and the standard of care is no different. There are states that are moving towards a reasonableness standard, while other jurisdictions have incorporated an additional standard into the analysis, which looks at whether there are two schools of thought on what type of care should have been provided under the circumstances. It may be possible for a doctor to defeat a negligence claim if there is a “respectable minority” opinion that the standard of care allows for the actions that were taken or not taken, depending on the circumstances. Finding an experienced medical malpractice attorney who understands the different standards and builds a strategy based on the applicable laws is critical to a successful outcome.

Stern Law, PLLC Strives to Obtain Compensation for Its Clients

Medical malpractice cases involve many different complex analyses and the development of a careful case based on the unique facts that are present. If this is not done well, then recovery may not be possible. At Stern Law, PLLC, we know how devastating that medical malpractice can be for a victim and his or her family and work to build the strongest case possible. For more than 30 years, we have advocated tirelessly on behalf of our clients. In addition to fighting for the rights and interests of our clients, we also act as a resource for those who have been impacted by medical malpractice. We have people available to answer questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week for anyone who has a question or concern, regardless of whether or not you are our client. Call us at 1-844-808-7529 or fill out an online contact form in order to learn how we can help you get through this difficult time.

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