The Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases.
If your injury resulted from medical malpractice and you are considering legal action, your claim will revolve around a legal phrase known as the standard of care. Our legal team is here to explain what standard of care really means, how it is established and its potential to affect your unique case.
A Definition of the Medical Standard of Care
A medical standard of care is the extent and type of care anticipated from a medical professional with education and training in the same area of medicine. This means the standard of care is the treatment modality and course of treatment the patient should anticipate as well as the treatment the medical community considers appropriate.
When it comes to medical malpractice cases, the most important questions to ask about the standard of care are the following:
• What is considered the standard of care in my unique situation?
• Did the doctor adhere to the standard of care?
• What should the physician have done to adhere to the standard of care?
• Would a competent physician have adhered to the same treatment course if similar circumstances were to occur?
In order to establish the proper standard of care, the services of a witness considered a medical expert will be necessary. Such a witness will detail how the treatment approach failed to adhere to the standard of care. Such an expert witness is typically a doctor within the same area of practice as the physician in question. The expert will discuss the standard of care and nuanced ways the medical care provider failed to adhere to the standard.
Physician Duties to Patients
Doctors must provide certain duties to their patients after the doctor-patient relationship forms. Such duties include the following:
The Duty to Warn and Advise: Physicians have the duty to warn patients of the potential dangers of various treatment options, alternatives and the possible consequences of specific courses of treatment. Doctors must also tell patients of the dangers tied to the medications prescribed. Furthermore, the physician is required to provide the patient with appropriate warning regarding third parties. As an example, if the prescribed medication makes it hazardous to operate heavy machinery or if there is the potential to become drowsy after ingesting the medication to the point that driving is difficult, the doctor must make the patient aware of such risks.
The Duty to Properly Diagnose: Doctors are trained to analyze patient symptoms and diagnose patients in the proper manner. Doctors can order testing, interpret the results and recommend additional evaluations performed by specific experts to identify the medical conditions that might be the underlying problem. The failure to properly diagnose the patient, a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosing the patient sets the foundation for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit if it can be proven a qualified doctor would have performed an accurate diagnosis.
The Duty to Supervise and Care
Physicians must delegate medical care duties to various professionals within the healthcare industry. However, there is still a duty to properly supervise such professionals as they administer medical care. If it is determined another physician would find it unreasonable to delegate a specific task and the patient suffers an injury stemming from the healthcare professional’s incompetence, there is solid footing for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Physicians and Vicarious Liability
In certain situations, a physician who fails to uphold the proper standard of care is not the only professional to be held responsible for medical malpractice. A clinic or hospital that employs the doctor might be held liable for that professional’s actions in a vicarious manner based on the respondeat superior theory. This theory holds the overarching employer responsible for employee negligence. However, The respondeat superior theory might not prove applicable in some cases as plenty of physicians are actually independent contractors not directly employed by the medical facility in question. If it is determined another healthcare professional is responsible for the patient’s harm, it is also possible for the physician to be liable for the employee’s actions.
Reach out to our Medical Malpractice Law Firm for Assistance
If you endured harm stemming from poorly administered medical care, our legal team led by Richard Schibell is here to help. We understand all the subtleties of the various forms of medical malpractice including the nuanced contributing factors. If you have such a case and would like to move forward, meet with us so we can study your unique situation and pinpoint the parties who might be responsible for your specific injuries and subsequent losses. Contact Richard Schibell today at 732-774-1000 for a risk-free consultation.
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is senior partner at the law firm of Schibell & Mennie, LLC. Mr. Schibell has tried numerous jury trials as lead trial counsel representing plaintiffs in complex damage cases involving devastating personal injury and wrongful death claims arising out of automobile negligence, medical malpractice, premises liability, and defective products. Mr. Richard Schibell has a number of precedent-setting published court opinions on the state and federal level.
is an associate at Schibell & Mennie, LLC concentrating in all aspects of Workers’ Compensation throughout New Jersey. Mr. Richard N Schibell graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts, concentrating in both Philosophy and History. He went on to receive his Juris Doctorate degree from Seton Hall University School of Law.
Following his graduation from law school, Mr. Schibell served as a Judicial Law Clerk to the Honorable Richard W. English, J.S.C., in the Civil Division of the Monmouth County Superior Court.
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