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What is ‘Standard of Care’ in a Medical Malpractice Case?

Posted on October 11, 2023 in

When a medical professional breaches their duty of care to a patient, serious injuries or illnesses can occur. Often, victims in these circumstances are able to file lawsuits against negligent medical providers. These claims will hinge on whether or not the medical professional upheld the standard of care owed to the patient. Here, we want to examine what the “standard of care” means for a medical malpractice claim.

Defining the Medical Standard of Care

The medical standard of care is one of the more challenging things to define when it comes to personal injury or medical malpractice lawsuits. The difficulty comes due to the definition that analyzes a theoretical medical provider in a hypothetical scenario to compare to the current situation involved in the lawsuit.

When a jury is asked to determine whether or not a medical provider upheld the standard of care, they are asked to:

  1. Examine the totality of the facts presented.
  2. Compare the actions of the allegedly negligent medical professional to a theoretical, similarly trained, reasonably competent, and skilled medical professional with a similar background and in the same medical community.
  3. Examine whether the actions of the defendant would have been different or the same as the theoretical provider.

In other words, the medical malpractice case examines the question, “Would a similarly trained medical professional have provided the same treatment under the same or similar circumstances?”

If the answer to that question is “No,” and the victim sustained an injury or illness due to the substandard care provided by the medical professional, then there may be a medical malpractice claim to move forward with.

What if There is a Breach of a Medical Provider’s Duty?

Understanding whether or not there was a breach of duty on the part of a medical provider can be challenging. We strongly recommend that any person who suspects they have been the victim of medical malpractice reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. There are various steps involved with a medical malpractice claim that is not present in a typical personal injury case, and only an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can guide you toward the path most likely to recover compensation for your losses.

If a medical malpractice attorney does believe there was a breach of duty on the part of the medical provider, they will have to first file a certificate with the court that declares:

  • That a reasonable inquiry has been made by the patient and/or the attorney to determine that there is a good faith belief that a medical provider was negligent, and
  • That the inquiry uncovered evidence that evidence exists for an action against the defendant(s).

While conducting the “reasonable inquiry” process, the plaintiff and their attorney must obtain a written opinion from a qualified medical malpractice expert where:

  • The expert offers their opinion that the victim was injured due to medical negligence, and
  • The expert provides details to support their opinion.

Medical malpractice victims must file their claims fairly quickly. Under Connecticut law, medical malpractice cases must be brought within two years from the date of injury or illness caused by medical malpractice. This means that filing the initial complaint along with the “reasonable inquiry” certification must occur within two years (Connecticut General Statutes section 52-584).

There are various exceptions to the medical malpractice statute of limitations, and we encourage you to reach out to your attorney for assistance as soon as possible to avoid missing any deadlines.