When you are harmed by a doctor or a healthcare provider, you must demonstrate that the provider fell short of the accepted “standard of care.” This is a legal term that refers to the level of care and professionalism with which a doctor or healthcare provider must offer treatment and care.
Understanding the Standard of Care
In most personal injury cases, the injured victim needs to prove that the defendant breached a legal duty by failing to live up to the standard of care. In traditional negligence cases, such as for a car accident, a “reasonable person” standard is used. This means that the defendant’s behavior is compared with a hypothetical average reasonable person. If a hypothetical average reasonable person would have been more careful than the defendant was, then the defendant breached the standard of care. He is, therefore, potentially responsible for injuries from the breach and if the plaintiff can prove that the breach of care led to harm, the plaintiff can recover compensation.
With medical malpractice cases, an injured patient also has to prove that the defendant doctor or healthcare provider breached the standard of care. However, the standard used in this case is a “professional” standard of care. In other words, the doctor or care provider is not compared to a hypothetical average reasonable person but is instead compared to a hypothetical average reasonable professional.
If a doctor or care provider acted in a way that no reasonable professional care provider would have, or failed to act when a reasonable provider would have acted, then the doctor or care provider breached the standard of care and can be held liable for professional negligence.
A Professional Negligence Standard
Because a professional standard of care applies to medical malpractice cases, a doctor or care provider’s behavior is held up against what an average reasonable professional with similar training and a similar background would have done.
For example, a cardiologist in a major city who routinely sees heart attack patients would be compared with a hypothetical average reasonable cardiologist in a major city who routinely sees heart attack patients. A family care doctor in a small town, on the other hand, would be compared with an average reasonable doctor with similar medical training in a small town. Obviously, the cardiologist would be expected to know more about the heart and would be more likely to be found liable for medical negligence for failure to diagnose a heart attack than the family practitioner would.
Proving Negligence in a St. Louis Medical Malpractice Case
When a medical malpractice case goes to court before a judge or a jury, it is important to help the jury see how the doctor in question fell short of the standard of care. Often, this means you will need testimony from an expert witness establishing what the standard of care is and explaining why the doctor failed to live up to it.
An experienced St. Louis medical malpractice lawyer can help injured victims to prove that the doctor or healthcare provider fell short of the standard of care.