What is the Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice CasesWhen a person is injured by the misconduct or negligence of a physician or other medical professional, they may have a claim for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider breaches the standard of care which then leads to a patient’s injury.

What is the Standard of Care?

In the context of medical malpractice, the standard of care is generally defined as the accepted type and level of care that a reasonable healthcare provider with a similar background would administer to a patient with a specific condition. If the doctor lacks the skill or knowledge required in providing a medical service, or fails to use reasonable care or to exercise their best judgment in providing the service, and that causes injury to their patient, then the doctor may be held responsible for the injury or harm caused.
As part of the standard of care, medical professionals owe patients three basic duties of care:

  1. The duty to possess the same knowledge and skill that is possessed by an average member of the medical profession in the locality where the professional practices;
  2. The duty to use reasonable care in the exercise of his or her professional knowledge and skill; and
  3. The duty to use the best judgment applying his or her knowledge and exercising his or her skill.

Proving Standard of Care

Proving that a doctor breached the standard of care is essential to any medical malpractice case. In most medical malpractice cases, expert witnesses such as doctors and other medical professionals will be required to provide evidence about what constitutes the standard of care in a specific situation. The expert witnesses should be healthcare providers in the same field as the alleged negligent doctor with a similar background as that doctor. These witnesses will provide testimony about what a competent and reasonably skilled doctor would have done under the circumstances and whether the actions of the doctor in question met that standard.

Locality Rule

Unlike in some jurisdictions, in New York, the standard of care in a medical malpractice case also depends on the community where the healthcare provider practices. A doctor must exercise that reasonable degree of learning and skill that is ordinarily possessed by medical professionals in the locality where the professional practices. Plaintiff must be able to produce a doctor familiar with the standards in the community where the treatment occurred. Although the rule has been criticized for potentially perpetuating outdated medical practices, it continues to be followed in New York.

Consult an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, you should contact an experienced attorney to evaluate your case.At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New Yorkers injured by medical malpractice. Contact us onlineor call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.