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Medical Malpractice

Sorting Out Physician's Duty of Care Not Always an Easy Task

February 6, 2015

Medical malpractice litigation involves a lot of moving parts and a good deal of specialized knowledge. This is true not only of the legal aspects of medical malpractice litigation but also with the medical and scientific questions that underlie medical negligence. Here we wanted to take a brief look at one such piece of the puzzle—the concept of standard of care.In the context of medical malpractice litigation, "standard of care" refers to the fact that physicians owe definite duties to their patients in the provision of medical care. The standard of care is the level of care that a prudent medical professional with comparable training would provide under the circumstances in question. Exactly what constitutes the proper standard of care in any given case is not always clear, though, and this is why medical malpractice litigation often involves a "battle of the experts," or a case centering on the divergent opinions of expert witnesses for each side.

New York Law Regarding a Physician's Duty of Care

The standard of care issue is complicated by the fact that some states, including New York, retain a locality rule, which requires a consideration of how a similarly situated physician (again, a prudent one with the same or similar training) within the same or a similar community or region would have acted under the circumstances of the case. This introduces a further potential for variance and confusion regarding the standard of care.Establishing the standard of care in a medical malpractice case is no easy matter, and plaintiffs who have been seriously harmed by a negligent physician should work with an experienced attorney to ensure they have assistance in navigating not only the court system but also the technical legal, and medical questions that are inevitable in many medical malpractice cases, including the standard of care.If you are concerned about whether your physician acted in accordance with his or her duty of care, we invite you to contact our law firm at 212-869-3500 to have your questions answered.