We have written before on this blog on the topic of medical standard of care. As we’ve noted, the medical standard of care can vary from one state to another and even from one community to another, depending on state law.
Standard of care can come from a variety of different sources. They can be based not only on federal and state laws governing the delivery of health care, but also by commonly accepted clinical practice. Clinical practices can change over time based on new research, though, and so standards of care based on them can also change.
One example of the kind of research that can contribute to the shifting of medical standards of care is a recent study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine. The study found that up to 75 percent of surgical patients may be receiving anti-clotting medications unnecessarily.
Under current standard of care guidelines, all general surgery patients receive anti-clotting medication as a matter of course. The thinking is that the medication will be beneficial to all patients for avoiding blood clot formation in the veins, even for patients who are not at high risk for developing complications from blood clotting.
The reality, though, is that any medication comes with certain risks to the patient. The risks associated with anti-clotting medications may not be serious for most people, but the research suggest that the lack of benefit from anti-clotting medications may not be worth the risks in many, if not most, patients. The key, of course, is that health care practitioners must exercise reasonable care in prescribing and administering medications, taking into account the benefits and risks.
Standard of care is not always an easy issue to sort out in medical malpractice litigation, but it is critical to building a viable case. Patients who are harmed in the course of medical care often have questions about whether their physician or health care staff made mistakes, and an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help a patient get to the bottom of these questions and seek an appropriate resolution to their case.