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What does “standard of care” mean in a medical malpractice claims?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2020 | Medical Malpractice Defense |

If you have been accused of medical malpractice, the patient may claim that you did not give them the standard of care that they were expecting. That’s the reason that they think you were at fault. You know that the term “standard of care” is going to be crucial to your case, but what does this actually mean?

Essentially, this is a loosely-defined term that simply means the type of care that an “average, prudent” doctor would provide to his or her patients. Exactly what that means differs from case to case, but it really just hinges on the idea that the patient should have expected at least that level of care given the doctor’s expertise, the available diagnostic tests and equipment and so on.

For instance, perhaps the patient suffered an injury as a result of the medication that you gave them. Does that mean you didn’t meet that standard of care? Perhaps, but not necessarily.

Say that this was your first meeting with the patient. You neglected to check their file. They were allergic to the medication that you gave them. They had a reaction to that medication that made their initial condition worse and led to the injury or the deterioration of their condition. In that hypothetical situation, they can claim that your negligence in not checking the records means that you offered care that was below the average level they should have been able to expect.

However, if they had no medical records and you could not have known they were allergic, that is a very different story. Doctors can only work with what they are given, and that would be true everywhere. You can argue that, despite the poor result, you did give them the type of care they would have gotten at another office.

This is just one example. Medical malpractice claims are complex cases. Make sure you know exactly what legal options you have for your defense.


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