Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Claims
Establishing a negligence claim of any kind requires proving that the individual who was negligent breached a standard of care. The standard of care will vary depending on the claim. In a medical negligence claim, the injured party must show:
- The doctor or medical professional/institution breached a standard of care owed to the patient; and
- That the breach in the standard of care caused the person’s injuries.
What is the Standard of Care in Medical Negligence Claims?
The standard of care in medicine is not one universal standard. Different standards apply to different procedures and treatments. For example, the standard of care for a surgeon in a hospital in Calgary is not going to be measured against the standard of care of a surgeon in a remote or rural setting. Instead, their conduct must be compared to doctors in the same conditions.
The standard of care can be described as “a measure of whether the acts or omissions of a physician meet the standard expected of a reasonable, prudent and diligent surgeon in the same circumstances.” If the act or omission falls below the standard, then the surgeon’s actions would be considered negligent.
An adverse outcome after a medical procedure does not necessarily mean there was negligence during that procedure. Doctors are not held accountable for the outcome of a surgery. Rather, they are held accountable for the steps and actions taken to achieve the result.
How Does the Court Determine Whether a Standard of Care was Breached?
The court will first establish the requisite standard of care for the medical procedure involved in the claim. The court will ask “what is the standard expected of a reasonably competent health professional when conducting the medical procedure that is argued to have caused a plaintiff’s injuries?” Once the court has established the appropriate standard of care, it will then consider whether the conduct of the medical professional in question fell below the accepted practice.
Medicine is constantly progressing and evolving, which means that standards of care may also evolve. For example, if a particular procedure or drug therapy is considered the “go-to” procedure or prescription in a specific situation, and a doctor ought to have been aware of it, they may be considered to have fallen below the standard of care for not using that procedure or drug. However, if a procedure or drug therapy was not considered the standard practice at the time in question, then it is unlikely to be used as evidence of the doctor falling below the standard of care.
Award Winning Calgary Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Standard of care cases are very fact specific. Every case will be different, and the approach taken by lawyers will vary depending on the circumstances of each case. It is important to have a lawyer who is up-to-speed on the changes in the medical field, and in medical malpractice case law, and who has a wealth of knowledge and experience representing clients in such claims. At Cuming & Gillespie, our experienced medical negligence lawyers can help you determine whether your case has the necessary evidence to prove a breach in the standard of care. We are up to date with all changes in the medical field, can advise you on the latest updates, and can help you pursue a successful claim. Call us at 403-571-0555 or contact us online to book a free consultation today.