In a prior post, we talked about the various components of a medical malpractice case, including the plaintiff’s burden of proof.  The first thing a plaintiff must prove is medical negligence.   We will talk about physician negligence, but this discussion also applies to nurses and other health care providers.

In Arizona, juries are instructed that medical negligence is the failure to comply with the applicable “standard of care.”  To comply with the applicable standard of care, the doctor must exercise  that degree of care, skill, and learning that would be expected under similar circumstances of a reasonably prudent doctor within this state.

What does that mean?

Does the doctor have to be perfect?  No.

Are doctors allowed to make mistakes?  Yes, sometimes.  Some mistakes are considered acceptable.  For instance,  during an abdominal surgery, surgeons are often forgiven if they mistakenly cut the intestine.  This is considered an acceptable risk given the nature of surgery.  However, a reasonably prudent surgeon would recognize the mistake and fix it immediately.  The failure to recognize the mistake is considered negligent and below the standard of care.

Generally, the key is that there are certain rules and processes doctors must follow to  comply with the standard of care.  Complying with those rules and following those processes is how doctors protect their patients from preventable errors.   We all want doctors to avoid preventable medical errors.  We deserve doctors who are interested in protecting their patients and ensuring their safety.

The takeaway is that not all bad outcomes are the result of medical negligence.  Sometimes bad things happen.  However, it takes experienced medical malpractice attorneys and their experts to analyze the facts and determine if medical negligence occurred.

Contact us if you would like to have experienced medical malpractice attorneys analyze the facts of your case to determine if medical negligence occurred.

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