Medical Negligence: Understanding the Standard of Care

medical malpractice, standard of care, Hinsdale medical injury lawyerFor most people, making a mistake at work creates a relatively minor hardship for a customer or a coworker. Perhaps a customer paid slightly more than they should have for a particular item, their food order was wrong, or their custom-designed computer software will be delivered a little later than originally promised. While such errors are certainly frustrating, they are rarely the basis for a credible negligence lawsuit. In certain professions, of course, mistakes can be significantly more serious. A police officer, for example, who mistakenly arrests the wrong person can dramatically impact that person’s life. Similarly, when a doctor or medical professional makes a mistake, a patient may suffer physical injuries, illnesses, and even death. It is important to realize, however, that not every medical mistake constitutes medical malpractice, and a qualified attorney can help you know the difference.

Doctors Are Human Too

A medical error can be a scary situation, especially if the mistake involves a misdiagnosis or prescribing the wrong medicine. As a patient, your health and your life can be directly affected, and the dangers are extremely serious. Any time a doctor or other medical professional misses a symptom or guesses wrong about your condition, it is easy to believe that he or she should be held financially responsible for the error. The law in Illinois, however, is not quite so harsh on medical practitioners.

The medical field is one that encapsulates an endless variety of variables, including thousands, if not millions, of possible diseases and ailments, combined with the lifestyle choices of patients, and the patients’ ability to actually communicate and describe what they are feeling. The law, therefore, recognizes, the doctors are not superhuman machines capable of automatically knowing what is wrong and how to help. As such, a medical malpractice claim is only appropriate if you believe that your doctor failed to adhere to the prevailing standard of care for a medical professional in that particular field.

What Is the Standard of Care?

The law does not specify exactly how a doctor or medical professional must act. Rather, it provides that he or she must apply a similar level of “knowledge, skill, and care ordinarily used by a careful” professional with similar training, experience, and available information. Failure to do so is considered to be “professional negligence”—in other words, medical malpractice. The applicable standard of care essentially means that your doctor must treat your case in a manner consistent with the way in which another doctor of similar age, experience, and training would. Thus, if the doctor’s mistake is one that another professional may have reasonably made, it is not negligence or malpractice.

In most medical malpractice cases, the standard of care is established through expert witness testimony. Other professionals in the same field as the accused doctor provide insight for the court as to how the case should have been handled, based on accepted medical standards. The most extreme cases may not require expert testimony, as sometimes the doctor’s actions are so outrageous that “the alleged negligence is grossly apparent or is obvious to a layman.”

Skilled Legal Assistance

If you have suffered an injury or a sustained illness due to a medical error that you believe to be malpractice, contact an experienced DuPage County medical malpractice lawyer. A member of our team will meet with you to discuss your case and help you determine the best course of action to recover the compensation you deserve. Call 630-920-8855 to schedule a free consultation today.


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