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What is the Standard of Care in a New York Medical Malpractice Case?

October 30, 2019 in

Healthcare providers and hospitals are trusted to safeguard the health of their patients. However, there are times when they fail to exercise the accepted standard level of care expected of them, resulting in serious and potentially fatal injuries.  These injuries can be expensive and may impact a patient for the rest of their life. When a patient is injured by a doctor or hospital’s deviation from the applicable standard of care, they have the option of pursuing a medical malpractice claim for monetary damages.

What is the Standard of Care?

There is no singular definition as to what the standard of care is for a healthcare professional or hospital, as it continuously evolves and varies based upon every medical situation.  It does, however, consist of informal or formal guidelines that are generally accepted by the medical community as treatment for a disease or condition. Even so, standards of care still may differ from one geographical area to another.

Healthcare professionals who have undergone rigorous amounts of training and examinations to become specialists in their field are held to a higher standard of care. Examples of specialists include: anesthesiologists, cardiologists, pediatricians, ophthalmologists, neurologists, allergists, radiologists, and internists.

When it comes to a New York medical malpractice lawsuit, the standard of care is considered met if other physicians or hospitals with equivalent skill and competence would have provided the same treatment or followed the same guidelines, under identical circumstances.

How the Standard of Care is Established

To establish the standard of care required of a defendant (physician or hospital) in a medical malpractice case, medical malpractice lawyers will most often call for the testimony of an expert witness. The expert physician must possess a similar degree of skill, training, and experience in the same field as the defendant.  They will then testify as to:

  • What the standard of care is in this particularly case;
  • The specifics of how the treatment was below the standard of care; and
  • How the patient was harmed as a result of the sub-standard treatment.

In New York, prior to pursuing a medical malpractice claim or in some cases within 90 days of filing a lawsuit, a certificate of merit must be obtained to verify that a lawsuit is not frivolous, and that an expert physician has reviewed the facts and advised the lawyer that the case has merit to be brought.

Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim

A victim of medical malpractice must be able to prove the following four elements in court:

  • The standard of care existed within the applicable medical community;
  • The standard of care was breached by the defendant;
  • The breach was the proximate cause of the victim’s injuries; and
  • The resulting injury caused actual damages.

Doctors and hospitals often require patients to sign consent forms prior to receiving care,  which disclose all of the potential complications that may arise during treatment. When there are allegations of medical malpractice, the patient’s “informed consent” may be used as a defense to abolish them of any legal liability. However, a signed consent form does not give consent to negligent acts.

Speak to an Experienced NY Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been the victim of negligent care by a physician or hospital and are in need of help, contact Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, P.C. We will assess your claim for free, call (212) 732-9000 and schedule a consultation today.