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What is the standard of care and why is it important?

This blog has previously alluded to the standard of care. Determining exactly what the standard of care is constitutes an important component of medical malpractice claims in New York because, if a doctor has not met the standard of care when treating or diagnosing a patient, then he or she can be held liable for negligence and have to pay compensation to his or her patient for any injuries he or she suffered as a result of that negligence.

Basically, the standard of care is the way an ordinary doctor, being careful and cautious, would treat his or her patient. More specifically, a doctor has to give his or her patient the same care as would another doctor, equally qualified, would give under the same facts and circumstances.

While what the standard of care is varies a little from community to community, the evolution of the practice of medicine has made these variations less prominent.

In any event though, on practical level, it can be very hard to define what exactly the standard of care is, especially when one considers that it can also depend heavily on what sort of illness or injury is involved. Usually, an injured patient trying to recover compensation from his or her doctor will have to get an expert to explain the standard of care and show that the doctor did not meet that standard.

The basic idea of standard of care is that doctors cannot be expected to know everything or to make the right call in every medical situation, meaning there is always some leeway given to doctors to decide how best to treat a medical problem. Still, there are some limits, and if the doctor steps outside of those limits, he or she can be held legally responsible if a New York patient suffers as a result.

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