What Is the Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases?

What Is the Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases?

What Is the Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Medical care facilities are held to a standard of care. The risks of not meeting that standard can be detrimental to those they attend. Medical malpractice cases are founded on a healthcare provider's actions or failure to act. However, before you pursue a malpractice suit, you must demonstrate that the provider's conduct amounted to medical negligence.

In personal injury law, negligence means the failure to exercise the proper amount of care. That means if a reasonable person would have taken a certain action, then not doing so would be considered medically negligent. Alternatively, if a reasonable person would not have taken action, then doing so would also be considered negligent.

In medical malpractice cases, courts describe negligence as a healthcare professional's failure to provide treatment that meets the applicable medical standard of care the circumstances require. Read on for more information on how your St. Louis Medical Malpractice Attorney can offer assistance.

Your access to a medical malpractice case and the compensation you could receive depends on if a healthcare professional was negligent. Medical negligence is measured by the medical standard of care delivered in the specific treatment setting where the patient was harmed. Read on for additional information on medical care standards and more.

The Medical Standard of Care

The medical standard of care is typically defined as the level of care a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional would have provided under the circumstances leading to the alleged malpractice.

The question you want to answer in your medical malpractice claim is whether someone with a similar background in the same medical community would have provided the same treatment under the same or similar circumstances.

If the answer to that question is "no," and you were harmed, as a result, you may have a medical malpractice claim. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have difficult responsibilities. However, there is no excuse for negligently causing harm to others.

How Is This Standard of Care Established?

Medical malpractice attorneys have extensive experience negotiating and litigating these types of claims. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is usually a qualified expert medical witness who will testify about what the appropriate medical standard of care was under the circumstances. Their testimony will be pivotal to demonstrating how the caretaker’s deviation from that standard played a role in the plaintiff's injuries.

Many states have enacted laws requiring medical malpractice complainants to retain an expert witness with experience in a similar medical field. In certain states, the plaintiff must file a sworn statement testifying, in the expert's opinion, the medical standard of care was violated.

Reasonable Care

Doctors and healthcare professionals are judged by the practices of similar care providers. The differences between their actions and other professionals arise in the context of legal liability. Physicians and other professionals are responsible for providing medically reasonable care. They cannot be legally liable for their lack of ideal or perfect care.

Because most medical procedures and treatments involve the risk of complications, not all complications involve negligence. Some are the result of negligence, but generally, medical complications are normal. Patients can be incorrect when they believe anything other than a full recovery amounts to medical malpractice.

Some states adhere to a standard "reasonableness" definition when assessing liability in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Other states use the "respectable minority" definition, in which doctors and lawyers recognize there may be more than one acceptable method of delivering care.

If you have specific questions about how your state defines the medical standard of care, want to understand your options, or think you were harmed by sub-standard care, a medical malpractice attorney can help. Many offer a free consultation to discuss your malpractice claim and injuries.

Specialist Considerations

Certain healthcare professionals are considered specialists in their vocation. These professionals typically have gone through numerous hours of training and examinations. They are usually held to a higher standard of care.

Here are a few common examples of healthcare specialties:

  • Allergists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Neurologists
  • Radiologists
  • Internal medicine practitioners
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Pediatrics
  • Cardiologists
  • Medical Standard Perspective

If a healthcare professional or facility makes a mistake, it does not automatically equate to medical malpractice. When determining if malpractice occurred, medical treatment must fall below an accepted medical standard of care. Additionally, sub-standard treatment must have resulted in harm to you, the patient.

When the defendant's care provider does something that falls short of the medical standard of care, this may be considered malpractice. If a healthcare professional provides sub-standard care, but nobody is harmed by it, it is not malpractice. An experienced St. Louis malpractice attorney can help you understand the difference. Speak with one right away if you are in need.