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The Standard of Care in a Medical Malpractice Claim

Close-up of gloved hands passing the surgical scissors

A Medical Professional’s Standard of Care with Respect to Patient Injury

As a general principle in personal injury claims based on negligence, an injured party must show:

  • The defendant breached an accepted duty to use a reasonable standard of care in whatever activity caused the injury—driving a car, building a house, manufacturing a product, providing a service.
  • The failure to use the accepted standard of care actually caused an injury
  • The injured party suffered a loss because of the accident

In general negligence actions, the standard of care is that of a reasonable person, typically defined as an average person of ordinary prudence. However, in claims involving allegations of medical negligence or malpractice, though, the standard of care is significantly different. Because of the risks associated with receiving inappropriate medical care, doctors and nurses are generally held to a higher standard of care than others.

In a medical malpractice claim, therefore, to determine whether a doctor or nurse acted properly, the jury must consider the following:

  • Was the care provided similar to that which would be given by a reasonably competent and skilled health professional (not an ordinary person), with a similar background (education and experience), in the same medical community (standards may vary from one medical community to the next).

In most lawsuits alleging medical negligence or malpractice, the accepted standard by which the medical professional will be judged is established through expert testimony. Frequently, both sides will offer witnesses who testify regarding the practices and procedures that are considered reasonable within the profession and the community. Certain states have enacted legislation requiring that anyone seeking damages for alleged medical negligence retain an expert in the same field and from the same community.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at 302-777-1000 for an appointment.

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