In recent posts, we’ve been discussing cancer screening guidelines in the context of medical malpractice litigation. One important point to highlight in this discussion is that cancer screening guidelines do not, in and of themselves, constitute a standard of care.
Cancer screening falls within what could generally be termed clinical practice guidelines. There is, to be sure, a difference between clinical practice guidelines and the legal standard of care. The latter is determined by how a reasonable practitioner would act in given set of circumstances, and is the proper subject of medical malpractice litigation. Clinical practice guidelines, on the other hand, are intended to synthesize the evidence and guide physicians in making evidence-based decisions in caring for patients.