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September 16, 2018

Medical Malpractice: What is a Standard of Care?

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Posted in Wisconsin Workers Compensation Related News

Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you know is thinking about pursuing a medical malpractice claim, you have likely come across the phrase “standard of care, ” even if you are just beginning your research. Especially if this is your first involvement with civil law, the terminology and theories surrounding a “standard of care” may seem overwhelming. The best way to get clarification regarding this and any other questions you have, and to make sure that you have a sound understanding of what you need to do to make a medical malpractice claim, is to consult with and hire a competent medical malpractice attorney in your local area. A local medical malpractice attorney will not only know the law of your state and how it will affect your claim, but will also know the attorneys who typically defend medical malpractice claims, and the doctors and medical institutions involved in your care.

As you consider your options, however, here are a few questions and answers regarding the concept of “standard of care” in the context of medical malpractice litigation:

  • First things first, what is a standard of care? A standard of care is the minimum quality of care that a medical professional must provide. If a medical professional fails to provide the standard of care, he or she will most likely be found by a court to have acted negligently. Negligence is the basis of medical malpractice claims, and must be proven before a plaintiff can recover any money damages at trial.
  • How do I know if my doctor met the minimum standard of care? Typically, a doctor must match the quality of care that other doctors of reasonable skill would have provided to meet the requisite standard of care. However, there are a few caveats. First, a doctor’s quality of care is only compared to other doctors with the same background. Second, a doctor’s quality of care is only compared to other doctors, of a similar background, who are practicing in the same medical community.
  • What was that, again? That’s right, the “standard” a doctor must meet is vague and confusing, and certainly up for interpretation by a court. For example, doctor’s can argue that they met a standard of care because they acted just as other doctors would have in their community. Put another way, most doctors don’t have to provide the standard of care commonly used at the Mayo Clinic, or other first class medical institution. Instead, they need only provide the standard of care used in their local community hospital. This kind of argument can be difficult for a plaintiff to overcome and requires carefully considered strategy, best based on significant experience with medical malpractice law and knowledge of local medical institutions.

The “standard of care” is a phrase used over and over in medical malpractice litigation. As you can see, however, it’s actual definition and how it will be used in your claim is a difficult question to answer. For this reason, among others, you should reach out to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer today if you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim against your medical provider.

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