Patients who turn to medical professionals for care expect that they will receive care that – at a minimum – meets professional standards of care as defined by law. Some may have unrealistic expectations, but it’s up to each medical professional to provide accurate information to each patient.
There are several things that you’ll have to consider if a patient claims that you didn’t provide them with the care that they should have received. It may make it easier for you to avoid litigation if you can help patients understand what professional standards of care are and how they function.
How are professional standards of care defined?
Professional standards of care function differently as applied to different circumstances. This means that standards of care can change depending on a number of different factors.
For example, the training of the doctor plays a role in the standard of care. A doctor that has a general medical license won’t provide as high of a level of care as a specialist in the field that treats the patient’s condition. For example, an oncologist will likely provide better care for a cancer patient than a general practitioner by virtue of their specialized training.
The technology available to the doctor also plays a role in the standard of care. Patients would expect better care from a doctor at a major medical center than they would from a rural doctor who has older and less sophisticated equipment.
The information the doctor has also affects the standard of care. A doctor who has access to a full medical history can make a better diagnosis and treatment plan than a physician who is treating an unconscious patient suffering an emergency.
Patients who perceive that they’ve been harmed because of a medical professional who has failed to meet professional standards of care may decide to take legal action. You have to be prepared to battle back against these claims because your livelihood could depend on your efforts. These claims must be handled swiftly and carefully, so be ready to do what you can to mitigate your risk of liability.