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Standard of care isn't universal in all cases

The standard of care is used in legal claims to determine whether a patient experienced medical malpractice. If a doctor fails to treat a patient with the standard level of care, he or she is responsible for the resulting injury to the patient. 

Until a person is harmed due to medical malpractice, he or she might not ever consider what can happen if they don't receive adequate medical care. Doctors have to ensure that they and their actions meet or exceed the applicable standard of care.

What is the standard level of care?

The standard level of care isn't universal for every situation. Below are a few important points to remember about the standard of care.

Situational factors matter

When medical experts review a case to determine what standard of care should apply, there are many situational factors that matter. One of these concerns the information the doctor had available about the patient, his or her condition and past medical history.

The symptoms the patient reported and the patient's medical history should guide the doctor's diagnostic efforts. From there, the doctor should order tests that can either corroborate or refute each possibility.

The training and experience that a doctor has must also be considered. Specialists would be expected to have more knowledge in their chosen area than a general practitioner would. This would mean that the specialist should be held to a higher standard of care.

The location of the practitioner might also matter. A doctor with limited diagnostic tools would not necessarily be held to the same standard of care as a doctor working at a state-of-the-art diagnostic and teaching medical facility.

Expectations of the medical community

The standard of care isn't based on what patients expect from doctors. Instead, it is based on what the medical community would expect a reasonable doctor to do in a similar case. 

It can sometimes be difficult to determine exactly what standard of care should apply to a given case. Patients who are harmed due to doctors not meeting the standard of care might face a long road to recovery. 

It is important that patients have their rights protecting when determining if a doctor failed to provide appropriate care. Doctors rarely admit it when they violate this standard, even in extreme cases. That is why it is important to have an experienced advocate on your side who understands patient rights. 

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