medical malpractice, standard of care

What You Need To Know About The Standard Of Care In Medical Malpractice Cases

To win a medical malpractice case in Illinois, it’s not enough for an injured patient to show that the doctor or other healthcare provider made a mistake. Among other elements in the case, the victim must demonstrate that the doctor breached the medical standard of care owed to him or her. Knowing and applying the standard of care in your case is an important first step to claiming the compensation you deserve.

Illinois courts have put forth several instructions that help juries decide cases of medical malpractice. According to the jury instructions on medical professional negligence, the plaintiff has to show that the defendant breached the “applicable standard of care.” This has to be done by way of expert witness testimony.

How to Prove an “Applicable Standard of Care”

Medical professionals are required to exercise “the same degree of knowledge, skill and ability as an ordinarily careful professional would exercise under similar circumstances.” Importantly, all medical professionals in the state are held to the same standard of care. For instance, a given brain surgeon who allegedly committed malpractice will be held to the same standard as an “ordinarily careful” brain surgeon. This requires examining what an ordinarily careful practitioner would do in the same circumstances as your case.

The expert witness who is called upon to explain the applicable standard of care will also discuss whether that standard was breached. Usually, this expert is a doctor or other healthcare professional who can explain what he or she would have done in a similar situation. Calling upon their background, experience, and education, this expert will give their opinion in court. This opinion is subject to cross-examination by the defendant’s attorney, in which the lawyer gets to ask questions critical of the expert’s testimony. The defendant can also call their expert witness to explain what the applicable standard of care should be.

For example, let’s say your case involves a botched surgery in which the doctor who operated on you should have taken certain post-operative steps. Because he or she did not do so, you developed a serious infection that required hospitalization. Your expert witness would be responsible for explaining what steps should have been taken and why they mattered. He or she would then contrast that standard with what the surgeon in your case did.

Expert witness testimony is not only helpful to your case, it’s required by state law. And, several specific procedural requirements go along with it. When someone files a medical malpractice case, that person is required to also file an affidavit concerning the medical expert testimony. The affidavit will state that an expert who has practiced or taught medicine within the last six years has reviewed your case and concluded it has merit. This expert will need to be experienced in the area of medicine involved in your case and will have to conclude there is a basis for the lawsuit.

Without this affidavit, the court will have no basis for believing that the standard of care was breached. This will lead to your case being dismissed. The affidavit requirement exists to keep frivolous lawsuits from tying up valuable court resources.

Contact Our Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

Hale & Monico is dedicated to the rights of malpractice victims, and we have a network of expert witnesses upon whom we call in these cases. If you’ve been injured by a healthcare professional, put our experience to the test. Call us today.