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The Standard Of Care In Medical Malpractice Cases


Medical malpractice cases are not like general negligence lawsuits, such as car accidents or slip/fall cases. Medical malpractice cases are subject to a “professional” standard that is different from the duty of ordinary care that the public is expected to operate under. Instead of determining whether or not an outcome was avoidable with ordinary care, the litmus considers the prevailing standard of professional care for the industry of medicine as a whole or special care for certain subspecialties like oncology or psychiatric medicine. In other words, the standard of care is different for every specialty.

Who has the lowest standard of care for the medical field? 

The lowest standard of care for the medical field goes to EMTs and ER doctors who are expected to make split-second decisions in the care and treatment of patients in emergency medical conditions. Since they may not have time to run tests, they must diagnose on the fly and then treat. It won’t always work out and patients will die, but that doesn’t mean that they committed an actionable wrong against the patient. It could mean that, and sometimes does, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

EMTs are the hardest to sue because their job is simply to stabilize a patient long enough to get them to the hospital. In most cases, EMTs who make an honest effort to save a patient’s life will not be found negligent. Most lawsuits against EMTs are for intentional misconduct as opposed to professional negligence.

Who has the highest standard of care? 

Long-term care doctors tend to have higher standards of care because they (ostensibly) have time to test, diagnose, and treat. General practitioners also have a high standard of care due in large part to the fact that they’re expected to see patients semi-regularly. Both of these specialties generally have enough time to make well-rationed decisions and act accordingly.

Where do the majority of mistakes happen? 

Surgical malpractice and negligent diagnosis make up the majority of medical malpractice cases. Surgeons conducting new or experimental surgeries using cutting-edge tech tend to lose more patients than those who perform routine surgeries. While not all surgical mistakes constitute medical malpractice, many of them do when the mistake is not corrected or accounted for during the surgery. When determining whether or not a mistake is actionable, the law looks at the prevailing standard of care for the surgery. If there is a lot of data on how the surgery is supposed to go, then chances are good that the doctor can be sued. With newer or experimental surgeries, there is less evidence of the prevailing standard of care so the matter becomes a bit trickier (and easier for the doctor to defend).

The bottom line 

If you’ve been injured by a doctor or lost a loved one, you can have the matter reviewed by Palmer | Lopez to determine if medical malpractice occurred. It’s nearly impossible for laypersons to know that. Attorneys can’t know whether a case is winnable until after a settlement has been signed or a jury renders a verdict. So, that’s why our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers offer free consultations.

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