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What Is The Standard Of Care In Medical Malpractice Cases?

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All personal injury cases involve an injured plaintiff trying to prove that the defendant breached a duty of care, and unless you are a lawyer used to dealing with such questions, it probably sounds like so much abstract legal reasoning.  You have probably never thought about what the standard of care requires for a retail store owner or a driver, although you would know an obvious breach of the standard of care if it caused you to get injured.  If you trip over an uneven floorboard in Best Buy, you know that the store management should have repaired it before someone got hurt, and if someone runs a stop sign and crashes into your car, you know they should have been more careful.  The minute you walk into a doctor’s office, though, you are actively aware that the doctor’s job is to make decisions that will give you the best chance of recovery and will not make your health worse.  If you are a doctor, though, you are aware of how it is impossible to know about every possible risk factor of every patient or to prevent every adverse outcome.  Proving medical malpractice is not as simple as it may seem.  If a doctor’s error or negligence made your illness worse, contact a South Carolina medical malpractice lawyer.

What Constitutes a Breach of the Standard of Care?

No one walks into a hospital emergency room and says, “I’m having an ischemic stroke.  Give me Activase.”  They only know that they have a terrible headache and don’t feel right.  It’s up to the doctor to determine quickly whether the headache is due to migraine, meningitis, a concussion, or some other cause, and to act accordingly.  Unlike in the movies, it is not usually possible for doctors to tell, as soon as they see a patient, what the problem is or how to treat it.  They must also decide whether the patient’s condition is serious enough to require admission to the hospital or if the patient is stable enough to go home until they can see a doctor at a follow-up appointment.

These are some mistakes by physicians that have led to medical malpractice lawsuits:

  • Not doing a diagnostic test that would have enabled a correct diagnosis
  • Sending a patient home from the emergency room or from an outpatient clinic when the patient required hospitalization
  • Not seeking out relevant information about the patient’s medical history, whether through speaking to the patient directly or reviewing their chart
  • Not referring a patient to the relevant specialist or consulting a relevant specialist
  • Prescribing a drug that is contraindicated (not considered safe) for a patient with that medical history

Knowing the right thing to do in a given medical situation requires a lot of expertise.  An orthopedic surgeon cannot have an authoritative opinion about whether an oncologist made the right decision about a patient.  Therefore, medical malpractice cases require your lawyer to consult with many doctors of similar professional background of the one who allegedly treated you in a negligent manner.

Let Us Help You Today

Your Columbia personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the complex process of recovering compensation after being injured due to a medical error.  Contact The Stanley Law Group for a consultation.

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