Determining the Standard of Care in a Medical Malpractice Case
When it comes to situations where people are injured or suffer some kind of harm in the course of seeking or receiving medical care, people often wonder whether they or their loved ones should file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The answer generally relies on whether or not the medical professionals who evaluated and/or treated them provided what is known as the standard of care.
The legal system defines the standard of care as the “standard of conduct to which one must conform, and which is that of a reasonable man under like circumstances.” This terminology is the basis for most negligence cases: when a person or entity fails to act as other, reasonable people would under the same circumstances, it is considered negligence. In the realm of medical care, the question is whether a medical professional in the same role and under similar circumstances would have acted in the same way. If the medical professional in your case acted differently than another would have, and as a result, you suffered some kind of harm, then medical malpractice may have occurred.
It is important to remember that the law does not require physicians to be perfect or mistake free. It also does not expect physicians to go above-and-beyond the call of duty. In a medical malpractice lawsuit decided against a physician who failed to check in on a patient’s well-being the night following surgery, the judge in the case spelled out what medical malpractice is and is not, writing:
Medical malpractice is a legal fault by a physician or surgeon. It arises from the failure of a physician to provide the quality of care required by law. When a physician undertakes to treat a patient, he takes on an obligation enforceable at law to use minimally sound medical judgment and render minimally competent care in the course of services he provides. A physician does not guarantee recovery… A competent physician is not liable per se for a mere error of judgment, mistaken diagnosis or the occurrence of an undesirable result.
This decision specifically spelled out that the physician, in this case, failed to provide “minimally competent care.” That is the legal expectation, and when a physician or other healthcare professional fails to provide that level of care, they may be guilty of medical malpractice. To speak to an attorney who can help you determine whether you have been a victim of this type of negligence, contact our office today to set up a free consultation.