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April 2nd, 2013

Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Claims Against Doctors and Surgeons – The Standard of Care

Everyone in every type of profession makes mistakes, and doctors and surgeons are no exception. Under the medical malpractice laws of Pennsylvania, if a doctor or surgeon makes an error which causes harm, he or she may be liable to the patient.

However, doctors and surgeons are allowed to make mistakes. The law recognizes that no one is perfect. Therefore, in a doctor or surgeon can be held liable for negligence if their act or failure to act falls below the standard of care of a similar medical professional (i.e., what a similar medical professional would have done under the same circumstances).

The Standard of Care in a Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Case

The standard of care applicable in a given case of medical malpractice will vary. That is because the standard of care depends on the type of doctor/surgeon at issue. For instance, the standard of care applicable to a family doctor will vary from the standard of care applicable to a specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon.

In addition, succeeding in a medical malpractice case in Pennsylvania requires proving 1. the applicable standard of care and 2. the doctor/surgeon’s breach of the standard of care actually caused the injury. This will be accomplished by hiring an expert in the same field. That expert will eventually write a report and/or testify as to the applicable standard of care. He or she will also indicate whether the doctor/surgeon being sued in the case breached the standard and whether that breach resulted in the injury.

In Pennsylvania, bringing a medical malpractice case requires adherence to a very specific law – the 2002 MCARE Act (Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act). Under the MCARE Act, medical malpractice actions must comply with very strict requirements pertaining to proving the standard of care via an expert. Under Section 512 of the MCARE Act (pertaining to expert qualifications), if the doctor at issue is board certified, the expert must also be board certified in the same field. This requirement, however, may be waived in certain situations.

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