Tort Law and Health Care
Within the general field of health care there is a good deal of discussion of tort law and health care because tort actions comprise what are more commonly known as medical malpractice or medical negligence actions. In medical malpractice or medical negligence suit is premised upon the physician or health care provider having violated some standard of care that is recognized in the medical industry. A standard of care is simply a minimum threshold level of expertise that the health care provider is expected to exercise in terms of providing medical services to a patient.
The standard of care does not necessarily have to be written down. Indeed in many instances standards of care are not written down but they are recognized by health care providers as being the minimum standards that should be complied with.
In most medical malpractice actions the primary issue is exactly what is the standard of care. The plaintiff, i.e. the party bringing the lawsuit, may contend that the standard of care is one thing. The doctor or health care provider who is defending the case may say that either there is no standard of care or to the contrary that the standard of care is considerably less than what the plaintiff maintains it is.
In some instances there are actually written standards that are promulgated by medical specialities that define what the standard of care is. That is fairly rare and to the extent that there are such standards or practice guidelines that are published by medical specialists such as the American College of Gynecologists, these groups expressly state that within their practice guidelines these guidelines are not intended to establish a legal standard of care but rather are simply intended to provide some guidance to their practitioners.
For more information on this topic see a book that I have written entitled Law 101 and also other articles within this website dealing with malpractice reform, hospital liability, checking out the doc, medical malpractice.