In a medical malpractice case a claimant must prove that a doctor or health care facility breached or violated the “standard of care.” On paper, this might sound like a simple concept to understand, and therefore prove. However, the truth of this is much more complicated.
Standard of care, in a medical malpractice action, means that a healthcare provider must possess the same knowledge and skill, and exercise the same level of care, that is normally provided by other healthcare providers in that field. For an example, a gynecologist must possess the same knowledge and skill as another gynecologist, and must exercise the same level of care that another gynecologist would provide if presented with a similar patient with a similar medical problem.
A standard of care is applicable to all healthcare providers, whether they are physicians, nurses, physical therapists, etc. Generally, only a healthcare provider in the same field as the defendant can testify. This is done so that the testimony to the specialist standard of care will be relevant and accurate to that field.
In order to find a breach or violation of the standard of care, a healthcare provider in the same field as the defendant would need to find that he/she would not have done something the defendant did, or would have done something that the defendant failed to do. After determining this, the healthcare provider must then testify as to how the standard of care was breached by the defendant. He/she must also testify that the injuries or damages suffered by the plaintiff are the direct result of the breach. A violation of the standard of care is referred to as the factual cause of the harm suffered by the plaintiff.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a potential medical malpractice incident, it is recommended that you reach out to experienced legal counsel immediately to discuss the details of your situation.