Somewhere between 25,000 and 120,000 lies the number of people who get hurt by medical malpractice in one year. Yet, less than one percent of these cases go to trial.

No matter the situation, each case of medical malpractice and medical negligence accounts for the current medical standard of care. By using this measurement of medical care, medical and legal professionals have a common ground to work on. The standard of care acts as a standardized measurement for patient care.

To learn more about the medical standard of care and why it matters when it comes to malpractice cases, keep reading.

What Is the Medical Standard of Care?

When it comes to medical malpractice laws, the medical standard of care is golden. It gives individuals a look at what another practitioner in the same area with a similar background would do.

In other words, it looks at how another practitioner would have responded to the situation at hand. This is looking at if they had approached the same exact scenario.

By looking at how another practitioner would’ve acted, legal professionals can evaluate the case. Then, they can determine whether it was truly malpractice or negligence.

If another practitioner would have handled the case differently, there could be a viable suit on your hands.

Is the Medical Standard of Care a Legal Term or a Medical Term?

The medical standard of care is a legal term when it comes to medical malpractice cases. A medical professional may come in contact with the term when they’re dealing with a medical malpractice case or learning about medical malpractice.

Mainly, lawyers use this term to describe the standard of care that another physician would give in a particular scenario. Typically, legal professionals use the term to prove how a defendant is or is not acting against their best judgment in a medical scenario.

Who Established the Medical Standard of Care?

In a court case, the medical standard of care comes from a qualified expert medical witness. This individual will testify about what the appropriate medical standard of care is.

If the medical expert believes that the practitioner did deviate from the standard of care, they may be able to provide some insight as to why or how this could have happened. They may also be able to explain any adverse effects or consequences that the patient may have experienced as a result.

Most states have laws in place that determine what kind of medical expert the court can use. Many states require that the medical expert is someone who practices in the same field as the practitioner in question.

Some states require that the medical expert sign a document that states that they agree that the practitioner was violating the medical standard of care.

Does the Medical Standard of Care Apply to Specialists?

Just like any other practitioner, specialist practitioners have to follow the medical standard of care. However, this may look a little different than the typical medical professional practices.

A medical specialist undergoes years of rigorous training on top of regular examinations. Because of this extra knowledge and training, specialists are held to a higher standard of care.

Here are some examples of healthcare specialties that you may have heard of:

  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pulmonology
  • Rheumatology
  • Radiology
  • Pediatrics

All of these experts (and others from other specialties) must have a medical expert who has similar training to them. If a cardiologist has a medical malpractice case, the medical witness should be a cardiologist. The same pattern applies to other specialists.

By having the same specialty as a medical witness, medical and legal professionals are getting a more holistic and honest view of the specialty in question. Asking another specialist about a specialty they don’t work in could lead to inconsistencies in practice.

Do Medical Malpractice Cases Consider Reasonableness?

Reasonableness is a consideration in medical negligence cases. As for medical malpractice cases, the court considers the practices of similar healthcare providers. While these two considerations may be similar, they are not the same.

One of the problems with measuring reasonableness is differentiating reasonable care and ideal care. Some laypeople think that all reasonable care is without any complications. In actuality, most medical treatments involve some level of risk.

The confusion comes when malpractice leads to unforeseen complications. It’s difficult to tell the difference between expected complications and unexpected complications. So, it makes it difficult for medical and non-medical professionals to determine medical malpractice and medical negligence.

In order to remove this problem, law professionals may depend on the concept of reasonableness. This helps them evaluate whether the risks and complications in a case are reasonable. This is where they can identify the medical standard of care and determine the logistics of the case further.

Overall, we should remember that no medical procedure is without complication or risk. Therefore, we shouldn’t see every adverse effect as a case of malpractice.

Is Every Healthcare Mistake Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a very serious offense. A mistake isn’t enough to convict a healthcare professional of going against healthcare standards.

Typically, medical malpractice must come as a result of two things:

  1. The practitioner must provide care that falls below the accepted medical standard of care
  2. That substandard treatment must result in some kind of harm to the patient

Both of these statements have to be true in order for a medical malpractice case to come about. If one of them is not true, it is not a case of medical malpractice.

Get the Legal Representation You Deserve

No matter the medical malpractice case, the medical standard of care serves as a valuable indicator of healthcare standards in the medical field. It helps legal experts determine the validity and seriousness of a case.

If you feel that you or someone you know may have a medical malpractice case, you should contact our team at Reed&Reed. We can help you navigate the ins and outs of your medical malpractice case. And, we can help you understand how your case may hold up in court.