What Is Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice?

What Is Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice?

In most cases involving allegations of medical malpractice, determining whether the defendant engaged in negligence when treating or failing to treat a patient who was injured as a result. Medical malpractice claims measure negligence allegations against the applicable medical standard of care that applied to the treatment the patient received under the circumstances. Determining the medical standard of care and whether the provided treatment fell below it is one of the most important factors involved in potential medical malpractice cases. Here is some information about the standard of care from the medical malpractice lawyers at Raynes & Lawn.

What Is the Medical Standard of Care?

The medical standard of care refers to the type of care that a reasonably skilled and competent medical provider with a similar level of education within the same area would have provided to a patient under the same treatment circumstances in which the alleged malpractice occurred. In other words, the accepted standard of care would be the care that you might expect to receive from an average doctor in the same field of practice under the same circumstances. The doctor’s medical knowledge and specialty are taken into account when determining the standard of care that should have been applied. The accepted standard of care can vary from situation to situation. Determining the appropriate standard of care involves taking the following into account:


  • The doctor’s medical knowledge
  • The skills of the doctor as compared to the skills of an average doctor in the same field
  • How an average, reasonable doctor would have provided the care
  • What the traditional, accepted medical practices are


This means that determining whether a doctor’s care fell below or met the standard of care involves looking at whether a doctor with the same types of skills and education would have provided you with the same treatment under the same circumstances.

How Do You Establish the Relevant Standard of Care?

Medical malpractice lawsuits rely on the help of qualified medical experts who can review the records and testify about the appropriate standard of care under the treatment situation. Pennsylvania requires plaintiffs to get certificates of merit from medical experts when they file medical malpractice lawsuits. The certificate of merit will state that in the expert’s opinion, the doctor’s care violated the medical standard of care.

Standard of Care for Specialists

Medical specialists have a heightened standard of care and must provide care that meets the standard established by reasonably competent specialists in the same area who have similar experience and training. Some examples of specialties that require a higher standard of care include the following:


  • Allergists
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Cardiologists
  • Internists
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Neurologists
  • Pediatricians
  • Radiologists

Who Determines the Medical Standard of Care?

A medical malpractice lawyer will review what happened to make an initial determination of whether the standard of care was breached. He or she will do so in consultation with a medical expert. The medical expert will review the relevant medical records to determine whether the care fell below the expected standard of care.


A qualified medical expert will provide testimony to help the court or jury determine what the expected standard of care is under the circumstances. Both the defense lawyer and the plaintiff’s malpractice attorney can call experts to testify about the type of care a reasonably competent physician within the same practice area would provide under the same circumstances.

Can Doctors Make Mistakes?

Doctors are human and sometimes make mistakes just like anyone else. Medicine is not an exact science, and complications not caused by negligence sometimes result. Some people will not recover from their medical conditions, and being unhappy with the results of treatment is not enough in itself to support a medical malpractice claim.


Instead, before you will have a viable claim for medical malpractice, the doctor or another health care professional must have engaged in negligence in his or her failure to act or negligent actions as measured against the accepted standard of care. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Raynes & Lawn can review what happened in your case before agreeing to proceed with a legal claim.


Just because a doctor or medical facility made a mistake, that does not mean that medical malpractice occurred. Instead, the treatment must have fallen below the accepted standard of care under the same treatment circumstances. If the doctor’s treatment did fall below the standard, the violation of the standard of care must also have caused you to suffer injuries and harm.


No claim for medical malpractice will arise when the doctor did not do something that fell below the standard of care. Similarly, if a doctor’s substandard treatment did not cause you any injuries or harm, you also will not have a viable medical malpractice claim.

Talk to an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you believe that the care you or your loved one failed to meet the expected standard of care of doctors or other health care professionals in the same practice area, you might be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice claim if the violation resulted in injuries and harm. To learn more about the standard of care for the doctor in your case, you should talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Raynes & Lawn. We can review what happened in your case and help you to determine whether your potential claim has legal merits. Call us today at 1-800-535-1797 to schedule a free consultation and learn about the rights that you might have.


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