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Medical malpractice defense: what is standard of care? P.2

In our previous post, we began looking at Michigan law concerning the standard of care in medical malpractice litigation. As we noted, the standard of care depends on whether the practitioner is a general practitioner or a specialist.

The standard of care, whether for a specialist or for a general practitioner, is objective as it is based on how a reasonable physician would act under the circumstances. Personal idiosyncrasies are not taken into account. Reasonable physicians can make mistakes, too. As long as the physician acted within the appropriate standard of care, an error in judgment is not enough to prove malpractice. 

For physicians accused of medical malpractice, it is critical to be able to build a strong factual basis that they acted within the standard of care with respect to their handling of the patient. This typically requires making use of expert witnesses who can testify to the appropriate standard of care under the circumstances of the case. Expert witnesses aren’t necessary to prove every breach of duty, but are at least used in situations where the standard of care is not evident.

One of the reasons it is import to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney is to ensure that qualified, experienced experts are utilized as witnesses. Under Michigan law, there are various requirements expert witnesses must meet. Beyond these legal requirements, there is also the importance of selecting experts who have personal qualities which will speak to a jury and who are capable of positively contributing to the defendant physician’s case. A skilled attorney knows how to select the right witnesses and fit their testimony into a strong overall case strategy. 

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