What Are Medical Standards of Care?

Published on Mar 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm in Legal Malpractice.

Doctors and other medical professionals are legally required to give reasonable care and not cause any harm to the patient. They have a duty to follow certain steps to determine what’s wrong with a patient and find the cause of their illness or injury. From that point forward, they have protocols and procedures to follow which inform them of the best way to treat their patient. Before proceeding with any treatment plan, they need to explain all the steps to their patient along the way.

Following these guidelines keeps patients safe and informed of what’s happening to them. All of these steps, guidelines, and protocols are part of a broad set of legal standards referred to as “standards of care”. Medical standards of care are typically-accepted guidelines that professionals in the medical field all strive to operate by. When professionals don’t operate by accepted standards of care and a patient is hurt or suffers as a direct result, that patient may be legally entitled to sue for malpractice.

One of the most important things to understand is that medical standards of care aren’t typically taught to medical professionals. Standards of care are not written as a definition that all medical students learn before they can practice medicine. Standards of care are legal definitions typically only used in medical malpractice cases. They become vital to these cases because they’re integral to proving that a medical professional’s mistakes led to the wrongful injury of a patient. They’re used in litigation to determine what another medical professional would have done in the same situation, and whether or not those actions or decisions may have prevented injury or harm.

It’s also vital to note that just because a patient isn’t happy with the care they received, that does not mean they were a victim of malpractice. In fact, many patients may believe the misconception that anything but a full recovery means their doctor did something wrong. This is not the case. Many procedures for surgery or treatments have inherent risks. It’s the doctor’s job to inform their patients of these risks, and if they proceed to go through with the treatment with that information, then they accepted the risks.

Legal matters arise when the doctor deviated from the standards of care and because of that deviation, a patient sustained further injury. Let’s take a look at how a lawyer can help you with a situation of malpractice:

How Can Your Lawyer Prove the Medical Standards of Care Weren’t Met?

In a medical malpractice case, the lawyers representing the doctor or medical professional will try to prove that they acted within the standards of care, while your lawyer will be trying to prove that they didn’t. This can be incredibly complex because it requires other professionals and witnesses to provide testimony.

The expert who provides testimony should be similarly trained as the professional that caused harm and have a history of treating patients similar to the victim, also commonly referred to as the plaintiff. This testimony will be used to determine if another professional would have made a different decision in the same situation and whether the professional in question acted negligently by not following that same course of treatment and following similar standards of care. Any evidence will also be thoroughly examined. If negligence can be proven, the medical malpractice lawsuit may be moved forward.

Get Sound Legal Advice from Belsky & Horowitz, LLC

If you’ve been harmed or have suffered at the hands of a medical professional or doctor you feel was negligent, it may feel like your entire world is turned upside down. We’re here to help you get on the right track to recovery. Get in touch today with one of our attorneys in Baltimore so we can discuss your case, your options, and you can decide how you wish to proceed.



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