What is the “medical
standard of care” in a malpractice case?
malpractice cases hinge on whether a health care professional was negligent
in treating (or failing to treat) a patient. And medical negligence is always
measured by the medical standard of care that applied in the specific treatment
setting in which the patient was harmed.
So, what is this legal
measuring stick that is almost sure to affect your medical malpractice case?
Here’s one answer: The “medical standard of care” is typically defined as the
level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled health care
professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community,
would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged
In a medical malpractice
lawsuit, it is almost always a qualified
expert medical witness who will testify as to what the appropriate medical
standard of care was under the circumstances -- and how the doctor’s deviation
from that standard played a role in the plaintiff’s injuries.
In fact, many states have passed laws
requiring that a medical malpractice plaintiff retain an expert who has
experience in the same (or at least similar) medical field as the defendant. Send
in some states the plaintiff must even file an affidavit or sworn statement from
that witness alongside the initial complaint, testifying that in the expert’s
opinion, the medical standard of care was violated.
Learn more about Common
Errors by Doctors and Hospitals.
by: David Goguen, J.D.