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As a patient, you trust that the doctors, nurses, and surgeons you interact with are meticulous in their care and will protect you from harm as best they can. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals are as scrupulous as they ought to be. When things go wrong and there is a question of whether a doctor was medically negligent, we look first to a concept known as “the standard of care.”

What Is the Standard of Care and How Is It Determined?

The “standard of care” in medicine is a set of standards to which physicians are expected to adhere when caring for patients. Failure to meet the expected standard of care could be considered a “breach of duty” that supports legal claims of negligence.¹

The standard of care is generally based on what can be reasonably expected from physicians practicing in the same general discipline and/or locality. To help clarify standards, many professional associations, governments, and insurers have issued their own guidelines.² Such guidelines may be used alongside testimony from medical experts to help establish the standard of care for a malpractice case.

Winning a Medical Malpractice Case

Because failure to uphold the standard of care can only really be determined in a medical context, a successful malpractice case typically requires the testimony of a medical expert with relevant knowledge. This expert can testify to what the expectations are and provide reliable medical evidence to clearly show how the accused was negligent in their duties.

doctor with mammography

In addition to expert testimony, relevant evidence like patient medical records, medical imaging, and physician correspondence can be gathered to further illustrate a failure to meet the expected standard of care.

What to Do if You Suspect You’re a Victim of Medical Negligence

If you believe that you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, here’s what you should do:

  • Collect all medical records and other evidence that can show clear negligence or illustrate a poor standard of patient care.
  • When talking with doctors or insurance companies, take care not to accidentally imply fault on your part. For example: Mentioning that you went back to work sooner than recommended could be misconstrued as an admission that you did not follow doctors’ orders. This could be used against you to suggest that your own negligence caused your problems.
  • Talk to a personal injury lawyer to discuss your rights and determine whether you have a genuine case for a malpractice lawsuit.

If You’ve Been Harmed by Malpractice, Our Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help

The personal injury lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. have the knowledge and experience needed to help you prove in a court of law that your physician failed to uphold the expected standard of care. Not only will we help you gather evidence and handle the paperwork involved, but we’ll also find medical experts who can provide crucial evidence to establish the standard of care in your case.

Call us today at (713) 364-0723 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3088386/
  2. http://jaapl.org/content/45/3/358

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Jonathan S. Harris and Matthew D. Shaffer are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Other attorneys are not board certified.  Principal office is located in Houston, Texas.