Find an Expert Witness

Forensic, General & Medical
Expert Witnesses

Expert Witness Testimony on Standard of Care in Medical Malpractice Cases

For a medical malpractice suit to have sufficient strength to proceed to the courtroom stage, the healthcare practitioner attached to the claim must either breach his or her standard of care to the patient or engage in negligence. An expert provides testimony and explanation about how either could affect the patient and lead to injury.

It is important that the courtroom understand what the standards of care are and how they would affect the patient. If the doctor or medical staff violates the standards set forth by the hospital or that the professional has for his or her profession, this could lead to a medical malpractice case. The injury and the connecting issues that involve the doctor and patient may provide additional strength to the claim for the injured and when hiring a lawyer. The expert witness is often able to explain the elements of a negligence or malpractice case and remove any doubt that the violations in the standards of care led to the injury and resultant need for compensation.

What Are Standards of Care?

A doctor or other medical staff is usually bound to certain standards when taking care of patients. This usually involves every level and stage of care provided
for the individual. This may include diagnosis, care before treatment, surgery, aftercare and the treatment necessary for a recovery. Sometimes, the healthcare facility will set the standards based on actions necessary to remove the greater threat and risk of litigation. If the doctor violates these rules, it could open the hospital, doctor and other staff open to a lawsuit. However, the malpractice suit must also possess three specific elements and a significant injury or death with the patient for the case to proceed to a courtroom.

Implementation of Standards of Care

When the physician follows the standards of care setup either by the medical facility or through his or her own practice, he or she usually avoids liability in lawsuits. The hospital or practice backs up the claims of the doctor or medical staff member, and the plaintiff has less strength in the claim. However, the best medical care may not occur through the standards every time. Because of this, the physician may defy the standard guidelines and perform treatment that is necessary based on the condition and not due to the rules of the hospital. This could open the possibility of liability if the doctor harms the patient either through physical harm or death.

The expert attached to the case will need to review any standards of care attached to the situation. If he or she already has a background as a doctor or a related field of study, he or she may need less time to accomplish this act. However, if the claim involves a small practice, this could alter the case. The expert will usually need to explain how any breach of the standards of care may harm the patient. This is due to the guidelines in place to provide the best treatment and medication due to the condition as reviewed and implemented by several other experts in the medical field.

Violations of Care

The violations that occur with standards of care are usually provocation to a lawsuit. The doctor or medical staff may perform an action that causes the harm to a person. Any additional or incorrect dosage of medication could damage the body. Incorrect surgical procedures could end the life of a patient. Device complications and machine problems may occur that cause untold damage. This leads to the testimony and explanation of the expert in his or her details of the case. By providing a clear and concise account of what happened, the expert may clear up confusion about why compensation is necessary.

The Expert in Settling Legal Disputes

Through assessing the malpractice claim, the expert may create a report or accounting of all details and actions connected with the claim. This could lead to a conclusion based on his or her opinion where the doctor is the responsible party for the injury from a violation of standards of care. This usually provides an opening for litigation to remain and continue as a valid action of the injured party or the family surviving the deceased.

The testimony in the case may also explain any additional treatment needed to correct the problems from the first doctor. Any compensation requested may include that for lack of work, pain and suffering and the medical treatment.

Provided by

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

Find an Expert Witness