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Relationship between standard of care and medical malpractice

Readers of the Lafayette personal injury law blog may have read that when a medical professional falls short of the standard of care they owed their patient, they may be held accountable for it. This is accomplished through a amedical malpractice suit. But the question that then arises iswhat the standard of care owed to a patient is, and how does one prove it was not met?

The aim of creating a standard of care is to ensure that medical professionals act in a manner consistent with the expectations of the medical community. This means when the doctor does not act in the way expected from someone in their field, they could possibly be held accountable for the harm that resulted.

However, the standard varies depending on the level of skill and expertise. First of all, it is expected that all licensed physicians possess a basic level of skill and expertise for both diagnosis and treatment of some types of illnesses and injuries. For example, a general physician should be able to administer CPR to a heart attack patient.

However, someone with specialized knowledge in cardio-pulmonary matters cannot testify that the general practitioner should have done everything the specialist would have done. In addition to this, the locality rule allows for a difference in the knowledge of a specialist in a small town private practice compared to a specialist in a large university teaching hospital in an urban area.

To add to the law is the difficulty in getting doctors to testify in medical malpractice cases about the standard of care that should have been given to a patient. Doctors hesitate from saying another doctor providing substandard care and this can add legal difficulties in an already complicated case. However, experienced medical malpractice lawyers may be able to devise strategies to get medical professionals from various fields to testify.

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Tauzin & Lorio, Attorneys at Law
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