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What is Standard of Care?

We expect quality medical care when we visit a doctor or undergo a surgical procedure. The problem is, it doesn't always happen that way. Doctors and nurses often work with too little sleep, hospitals are frequently overcrowded, and miscommunication between doctors, nurses, and a surgical team happens.

Whether a patient merely slips through the cracks or a doctor makes a huge mistake, if such poor quality treatment causes injury to the patient, it may give rise to a medical malpractice claim. In a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine study involving 1,452 resolved medical malpractice cases, it found that:

  • 19% of the defendants were OBGYNs
  • 17% of the defendants were general surgeons
  • 16% of the defendants were primary care physicians

Medical Standard of Care

The majority of medical malpractice cases hinge on the fact that the healthcare professional was negligent. Medical negligence is measured by what is called the "medical standard of care," which applies to the specific type of treatment that the patient received.

This is defined as: the standard of care that a prudent healthcare professional with a similar medical background, in the same medical setting, would practice under similar circumstances.

With a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is almost always necessary to call in a qualified medical expert witness to testify on what would have been the appropriate standard of care under the circumstances in question.

It will also be necessary for the expert medical witness to describe how the defendant's deviation from that standard caused the patient's injuries.

Physician's Duty to Inform the Patient

In addition to practicing the appropriate "standard of care," a physician or surgeon also has a "duty to inform" the patient of any known risks that may cause the patient to reconsider a medical procedure. If a physician fails to do this, he or she may be liable for any injuries that occur due to the undisclosed risk.

In such cases, the patient will need to prove that he or she was not informed and if they had been, they would have not gone through with the procedure (informed consent rule). Essentially, full disclosure of all material risks incident to treatment or a procedure must be fully disclosed, unless of course doing so would unreasonably delay urgent medical treatment.

Were you injured by a healthcare professional who failed to adhere to the medical standard of care? If poor quality treatment caused you to suffer undue injuries, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Call The Moore Law Firm to set up a free consultation with one of our Cincinnati medical malpractice attorneys. We can be reached at (513) 494-6941.

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