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How Does Standard of Care Affect a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Medical professionals owe it to their patients to treat them with proper care that meets accepted industry standards. This is the standard of care they owe patients to treat them in a way that mitigates harm and can put them in a position to recover from their severe injury, illness, or other medical condition. However, some medical professionals breach that standard of care through negligence or recklessness and cause harm to their patients.

If you suffered harm from a negligent healthcare professional, you could hold them accountable for the damages they caused by filing a medical malpractice claim with their insurance company. A medical malpractice lawyer can assist you in collecting tangible evidence to prove the medical professional breached the standard of care they owed you and caused the damages you seek.

What is the Standard of Care?

Medical malpractice claims serve to hold negligent medical professionals accountable for their mistakes or reckless actions that result in their patient’s suffering harm. Every medical professional owes their patients a standard of care, the professional standard of acting reasonably based on best industry practices.

Standard of care essentially breaks down to whether, in the same situation, a different medical professional with the same level of experience would have acted in the same way. Medical professionals are judged by whether their actions were reasonable given their experience level and what the situation called for.

If the medical professional deviated from accepted industry-accepted methods of care and caused harm, they could be held liable for damages in a medical malpractice claim.

Medical Professionals That Breach Standard of Care Can Be Held Liable in Medical Malpractice Claims

Breaching the standard of care essentially means that the medical professional acts in an unprofessional and potentially harmful manner. Deviating from the standards of behavior accepted by industry professionals means doctors could expose their patients to injury risk. The notion of breaching the standard of care is one of the four elements of negligence:

  • The at-fault party needed to act according to their industry’s standard of care
  • They breached the standard of care through negligent or intentionally harmful behavior
  • The victim suffered damages or injuries
  • There is a connection between their damages and the breach of the standard of care

Exposing a patient to injury risk can leave a medical professional liable in a medical malpractice claim. If the victim can prove they caused damages through reckless or negligent behavior, the medical professional could be held accountable for paying for the damages they caused.

How Can a Medical Professional Harm a Patient?

Medical professionals can be held liable in a medical malpractice claim for intentional and unintentional acts that harm their patients. In most cases, patients suffer harm through medical errors or unintentional mistakes made by healthcare professionals. However, some medical professionals could exhibit an error in judgment that causes them to intentionally expose a patient to harm.

Either way, the medical professional can be held accountable in a medical malpractice claim for breaching the standard of care and causing harm.

The following are some ways a medical professional can harm a patient:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Misdiagnosis of a health condition
  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Performing surgery on the wrong body part
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Prescribing the wrong dosage of a medication
  • Failing to sanitize medical equipment
  • Leaving a foreign object inside a patient’s body after surgery
  • Misreading lab and diagnostic test results

What Factors Affect the Standard of Care?

Recovering compensation for medical malpractice damages requires the victim to prove the at-fault party breached the standard of care. However, there are a number of factors that can affect how the standard of care applies. Doctors and other medical professionals can only act based on what they know and what medical equipment they have. The circumstances matter and can affect whether a healthcare professional breached the standard of care.

For example, a patient must disclose their medical history and what medication they use. If they fail to, a doctor may prescribe medication that can conflict with the medication they already use. This does not constitute a breach of the standard of care, as the doctor was not notified by the patient of what medication they use.

Medical professionals can also not be held liable for negative health consequences that were reasonably expected to happen. Before surgery or using medication, a doctor must notify the patient of possible side effects or health consequences. This allows the patient to decide whether the treatment is worth the risks. After the fact, the doctor cannot be held liable in a medical malpractice claim for the harm they warned could occur.

How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help You Recover Compensatory Damages?

Medical malpractice victims must prove the at-fault party breached the standard of care to recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages. This can be difficult for someone without experience handling medical malpractice claims, as they do not know what evidence can help prove their case. Hiring an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help with this process.

A medical malpractice attorney will have handled these types of claims before and will know how to help establish the at-fault party’s liability. They can gather evidence, such as medical records, diagnostic test results, hospital records, and expert witness statements, to help prove the medical professional’s breach of standard of care caused your damages.

Medical malpractice lawyers can also help you recover fair compensatory damages by following your state’s laws regarding medical malpractice, negotiating a settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company, and representing you in court.

Contact The Russo Firm for Help With Your Medical Malpractice Claim

At The Russo Firm, our medical malpractice lawyers have experience helping victims of medical negligence recover compensation for damages like medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

They have decades of experience assessing damages, collecting evidence, and negotiating settlements with insurance companies. Our medical malpractice attorneys understand the rules regarding the standard of care and can use their experience to inform the process of proving the at-fault party’s liability.

We understand how medical malpractice can affect your physical, psychological, and financial health. You already suffered a severe injury with potentially high medical costs, and the medical professional’s mistake has made the situation even worse. Allow our medical malpractice lawyers to put you in the best position to recover compensatory damages. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at (561) 270-0913 or leave a message on our online contact page.

Article written or reviewed by:

Attorney Anthony Russo

Attorney Anthony Russo

Managing Partner and Lawyer at The Russo Firm

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