Standard of Care

Law Topics >  Injuries > Standard of Care

Physicians are bound by a standard of care which holds a doctor responsible for administering sufficient treatment during any medical procedure. By definition, the standard of care is the degree of competence that a physician is expected to demonstrate. A doctor should execute procedures at the same reasonable level of efficiency that another competent physician with similar training and experience would consider satisfactory.

The standard of care does not necessarily require a physician to utilize the most expensive or most advanced procedures, only that he provides care that would be comparable to a similarly trained doctor under related circumstances. For example, a family practice physician would not testify against a neurosurgeon about violations of the standard of care. Another neurosurgeon with the same experience level would be called in to give testimony.

In the vast majority of the United States, the standard of care is a national policy, not a local one. A physician in California is bound by the same standard of care as a similarly trained doctor in Maine. The standard of care covers all levels of treatment – from the administering of proper medications based on Food and Drug Administration and Physicians Desk Reference recommendations to performing open-heart surgery. If a physician violates the standard of care, a negligence claim may be filed.