Medical malpractice: was there a breach in the standard of care?
Hospitals, doctors, nurses and other medical staff owe a duty to provide patients services that fall within the standard of care. To successfully bring a medical malpractice claim under Illinois law, the injured party must prove: (1) the proper standard of care by which a physician’s conduct may be measured, (2) a negligent failure to comply with the applicable standard, and (3) a resulting injury proximately caused by the physician’s lack of skill or care. To determine the appropriate standard of care, Illinois follows the ‘similar locality’ rule, ‘which requires physicians to possess and apply the knowledge, skill, and care which a reasonably well-qualified physician in the same or similar community would bring to a similar case.
You may wonder how we know what the standard of care is. When a sick person is in the hospital, he just wants to get better. He often feels that he is at the mercy of the medical staff. Unfortunately, a hospital visit can be one of the least empowering things a person experiences. In an effort to get better, the patient begins to place their trust in the medical staff. Everything from a trip to the restroom, a glass of water and a meal may require assistance from the hospital staff. The doctors are determining everything from which diagnostic tests to order to what medicine or surgery to administer. The doctor is taking the patient's individual circumstances into consideration.
In the event of medical malpractice litigation, an expert will provide testimony regarding the standard of care, which will be compared to what the testimony is in the particular case. The expert has to be qualified by meeting the following requirements: (1) the expert is familiar with the standards of care applicable to a reasonably well-qualified physician in the same or similar locality of treatment or (2) certain nationally uniform, minimum standard[s] exist despite the locality of treatment, and the expert is familiar with those standards.
The standard of care is not perfect care. In fairness to doctors and nurses who give their patients there all, many patients arrive at the hospital with very serious conditions that the medical team give their greatest attention to and the patient does not heal. Yet in other cases, we have to ask whether more should have been done. Should a CT scan have been ordered? Should more detail have been read in a radiology report? If these are questions that you are asking about your recent medical care or about the care of a loved one, contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys so we can help you to decipher the medical records to find out if you have a valid medical malpractice case.