Standards of Care

In the medical industry it specifies the guidelines of appropriate treatment given by medical professionals who are involved in providing any kind of medical treatment. A standard of care is a basic guideline that can be either general or very specific.

In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the standard of care exists as a guideline for the defendant. Any deviation from the accepted standard of care by a medical professional that results in injury or death to the patient could be deemed as professional negligence, or medical malpractice.

The standard of care is determined by a consensus of opinion of a board or group of responsible professionals, specific to that medical discipline. Standards of care exist for every medical practitioner and specialist, from nurses to cardiologists to anesthesiologists. There are standards of care specifically designed for a wide variety of medical conditions, including diabetes and cancer.

There is a specific legal term that applies in tort law used to determine if a doctor has breached or deviated from the standard making him or her liable for malpractice. This test is known as the Bolam test. Where the defendant is represented as having above average skills and abilities. Standards of care are in accordance with a responsible body of opinion and the opinions can differ.

It is the responsibility of the plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit to establish the correct standard of care. It is also the responsibility of the plaintiff to show that the appropriate standard of care has been breached or deviated from. This will require the use of witnesses who are experts.

It’s important to note that even persons who receive free medical treatment or services are entitled to the exact same standard as those who can pay for medical treatment or services. This ensures that the poor, or the indigent, from receiving only care that is less than standard.

A very good example of a medical standard of care would be a breach or a deviation of a medical professional from the Informed Consent Rule. Informed consent is the information given to you by a doctor, or a medical professional, about a particular treatment of test that you may need to have done. The purpose of this information is for you to decide whether or not you want to go through with the procedure or test. This information should include the expected benefits and the risks. It should also include the likelihood that the benefits and the risks will occur. It is important that you, the patient, be able to understand the information that’s being presented and you must have the capacity, or the ability, to make the informed decision. As the patient, you must grant your permission voluntarily to the medical professional to do the test of procedure. They cannot pressure you into making such a decision.

If an injury occurs because the medical professional failed to disclose a specific risk, the medical professional may be liable for a breach of the standard of care. The patient must be able to prove that had he, or she, been informed of the risk, he or she wouldn’t have agreed to have the test or procedure. This doesn’t apply in every case, however. If Informed Consent were to interfere or impede urgent care, the standard of care would not apply.

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