Patients often have an expectation that their physician is looking out for their best interests and will provide the best care they possibly can. Sometimes, however, health care providers and hospitals make mistakes or fail to provide proper care, which can lead to serious injury, illness, and even death. Top medical malpractice attorneys help clients understand the standard of care in medicine and how it applies in different types of claims.
What Is The Standard Of Care?
Standard of care is defined as the level and type of care a sensible health care provider with similar education, experience, and training would provide under comparable circumstances, typically in the same community. Simply put, standards of medical care are common ‘best practices’ and protocols widely accepted by health care professionals in the same field and in the same geographic region.
In some cases, if a practitioner followed a different course of treatment than other professionals in the same purview, there is a rule called the Respectable Minority Rule, which may show that the difficult course of treatment is recognized by a respectable minority of physicians. However, before starting treatment with such a different course of treatment, a patient should be informed that the treatment recommended to them is not widely accepted by the majority of professionals in the same area of medicine.
Why Is Standard Of Care In Medicine Important In Malpractice Cases?
The standard of care is a significant piece of the puzzle when proving whether a health care provider may be liable for a patient’s injuries. The main elements that must be demonstrated in most medical malpractice cases include:
- The established standard of medical care that the provider owed to the injured party under the circumstances
- The health care provider is breach of that standard of care
- Injury or harm to the patient
- A causal connection between the health care provider’s negligence and the patient’s injury
The Right Expert Witness Testimony Is Essential
The standard of care in a specific case usually rests on the expert testimony of professionals in the field of medicine in which the physician in question is currently practicing. Determining the standard of care is often challenging. It may take multiple expert witnesses to show whether or not a patient was harmed by the action or inaction of a medical provider.
First, an expert witness must establish what the standard of care is for a particular medical field. Then, the expert must testify as to how the patient’s course of treatment failed to meet that standard. Finally, the testimony should establish how the patient was harmed by treatment that did not meet the standard of care.
This is why it is critical to hire the best personal injury lawyer who has a track record of success in winning complex medical malpractice cases. Attorneys with a wide range of experience in this area of the law often have working relationships with widely-respected medical professionals who lend credibility to medical malpractice claims. After all, just as one would not ask their family doctor to perform brain surgery, too they should not hire a car wreck attorney to handle a medical malpractice case.
Establishing standard of medical care is just one facet of a possible medical malpractice claim. For a complimentary case evaluation, contact our medical malpractice lawyers in Chester County, PA at Perna & Abracht, LLC.