Elements of a Medical Negligence Claim – Standard of Care
This is part two of a series about the legal elements in a medical malpractice or dental negligence claim. Part one about the duty of care owed to patients by doctors and dentists can be found here.
In order to succeed in a medical malpractice or dental negligence lawsuit plaintiffs must prove:
- The doctor, dentist or health care provider owed them a duty of care;
- The services or treatment provided fell below the applicable standard of care;
- They suffered an injury or loss; and
- That injury was caused by the defendant’s actions.
What is the standard of care in a medical malpractice claim?
Whether they are a doctor, dentist, or other health care service provider, a medical professional is expected to uphold a certain standard of care when providing treatment to their patients, or anyone else to whom they owe a duty of care. They are not held to a standard of perfection, and it is accepted that even the most competent and skilled doctor may make reasonable errors when providing treatment. A mistake does not, in and of itself, breach the standard of care.
Rather, a medical professional should always exercise the reasonable care and skill of a normal and prudent practitioner with the same training and qualification.
How is the standard of care established?
Although the standards of practice considered “normal” within a profession can be very persuasive evidence as to the legal standard of care, the court may assess all of the available evidence before deciding what they believe to be the appropriate standard. In some cases, they may find that the ordinary standard of practice falls below the legally acceptable standard of care in the circumstances.
The standard of care is always assessed contemporaneously with the allegedly negligent act. If the treatment giving rise to the plaintiff’s injuries took place in 2010, then the standard will be based on a reasonable treatment provider at that time.
Through evidence from other professionals with similar qualifications and backgrounds, the court will consider whether the defendant’s treatment was reasonable, given their education, training, qualifications, specialties, representation to the plaintiff, and state of contemporary knowledge.
Ontario Personal Injury Lawyers for Medical and Dental Malpractice Claims
Negligence claims against health care professionals require a specific skill set, and experience with these types of claims. At Derfel Injury Law, we have handled serious injury claims against doctors, dentists, and other health care providers.