Medical standards govern the practice and provide of medical care by physicians, doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other medical professionals. For example, every medical professional should exercise reasonable care and medical knowledge when providing services to patients. They are expected to apply follow health and safety standards that are appropriate to their level of education, training, and that is specific to their field of practice.
Another example of a medical standard is the requirement that doctors fully inform their patients of any risks before administering a certain medicine, treatment, or procedure.
What Is the Standard of Care for Medical Providers?
The general standard of care for medical providers is based on how a similar qualified practitioner or medical provider in the same field would have acted in similar circumstances. Every state may have different standards when it comes to standards of care for medical malpractice. Also, each individual medical field may have different standards of care. For instance, an optometrist may be expected to follow different standards than a pediatrician (although standards may be similar in many respects).
The requisite standard of care is determined by three common standards:
- The National Standard of Care: Under this standard of care, the doctor is required to use the degree of care and skill that a reasonable competent doctor within his field would use under a national standard in similar circumstances.
- The Locality Rule: Under this standard, a doctor is required to have the reasonable caliber of skill and knowledge that is generally possessed by doctors and physicians in the locality or state where he or she practices. The national standard is not looked at.
- The Respectable Minority Rule: Even if a doctor did not use the general or usual course of practice that other doctors would have followed, the doctor can show that the alternative course that he did use is accepted by respectable minority of doctors.
How Can a Violation of Medical Standard Be Proved?
A violation of medical standard is usually proved when the plaintiff is able to establish that the medical provider or physician failed to meet a standard of care that the physician owed a duty to follow and provide. Most medical malpractice cases proceed under the theory that the medical provider was negligent in treating the patient. The patient must prove:
- The physician or medical provider owed a duty to exercise a standard of care
- The applicable standard of care used by similar medical providers was breached because the medical provider failed to exercise that degree of care required
- There was a causal connection between the medical providers breach of duty and the patients injury
- The patient suffered injury and damages as a result
To find that the medical provider was negligent and violated a medical standard, the patient must prove that the medical provider's conduct fell below a accepted standard of medical care. This can usually be proved by the use of other medical experts who are qualified in the same area of practice as the defendant.
What Are Some Examples of Violations of Medical Standards?
Violations of medical standards can take many forms, and will again depend on the exact type of medical treatment being given. Some examples of conduct that would likely be considered a violation of medical standards can include:
- Misdiagnosing a condition
- Failing to diagnose a serious condition
- Failing to exercise proper care before, during, and after surgical procedures (such as leaving a medical instrument inside the body)
- Disregarding instructions from a superior or advisor
- Violating patient expectations of privacy
The main rule of thumb is that professionals with higher levels of training may be held to more specific standards than other practitioners. Patients should thus be informed of the risks as well as benefits before agreeing to participate in any form of treatment or surgery.
Violations of medical standards typically involve some sort of medical negligence. Only persons who owe the duty of care to the patient can be held liable for a violation.
What Are Remedies for Violations of Medical Standards?
If a violation of medical standards has caused the patient physical injuries, they may be able to obtain a monetary damages award to compensate them for their losses. This will usually cover expenses that are directly caused by the injuries, such as additional medical bills, medicine receipts, and additional therapy. The hospital or physician may also become liable for additional damages such as loss of future income in serious cases.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Medical Malpractice Claim?
The assistance of a lawyer is typically required when filing a claim for medical malpractice and violations of medical malpractice. You can hire a qualified personal injury lawyer in your area if you need assistance with any legal claims or lawsuits. Your attorney will be able to provide you with the legal representation and advice needed for succeeding on a malpractice claim.