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How the standard of care affects medical malpractice claims

Doctors in New Mexico are expected to provide their patients with the appropriate standard of care. A standard of care is the general level of care that patients expect to receive from members of the medical community. In the past, standards of care varied greatly from region to region. Today, however, national board exams and board certifications have resulted in a more uniform standard of care.

Determining whether a doctor provided the right standard of care to a patient is a crucial part of many medical malpractice cases. For instance, if a doctor gave a patient a higher dose of a medication than what is generally accepted as appropriate in the medical community, the doctor could be held liable for the patient's injuries.

Licensed physicians are not expected to be experts in every type of medicine, but they are expected to have basic skills when it comes to diagnosing and treating common health issues. A general practitioner should be able to administer CPR, but they won't be held liable for injuries caused by their inability to perform emergency heart bypass surgery. There may also be locality factors that could affect whether or not a doctor is found to have not provided the requisite standard of care.

When an injured patient wishes to hold a doctor liable for physician errors, it is important that they obtain testimony about the standard of care from another licensed physician. Because many doctors are reluctant to testify in medical malpractice claims, finding expert testimony can often prove difficult. However, an attorney who represents injured patients in medical malpractice claims will likely know medical experts who are willing to testify.

Source: FindLaw, "Standard of Care: Treatment and Surgery", accessed on Feb. 5, 2015

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