Medical Malpractice Law 101: Affidavit of Merit and Standard of Care

To become a professional in any given field requires years of training and ongoing professional development. For those who have successfully completed this training, a community of like-minded professionals awaits from which they can consult and collaborate on current issues in their field, such as medical malpractice in the healthcare community.

Over time, professionals in the same field develop a sense of the overall competencies of their colleagues through means such as consultation and collaboration, observation, and informal conversation at conferences and training sessions. However, for those outside of that professional community, it is often very difficult to determine who is competent and who is not.

In the medical field, this can be a major source of concern, especially if a patient becomes a victim of a botched procedure. When this happens, victims often want to pursue legal action to recover compensation for damages. To accomplish this goal requires an understanding of affidavits of merit and medical standards of care.

The Affidavit of Merit

Nevada state law requires a plaintiff to provide an “affidavit of merit” before their medical malpractice case will be thoroughly considered by a court. An affidavit of merit is a document prepared by a medical professional in the same field as the defendant. Its purpose is to provide a written statement from a medical professional who can attest that the allegations set out by the plaintiff are valid.

The affidavit of merit also explains the specific negligent acts allegedly committed by the defendant, and how these acts compare to the proper procedure in question. Since judges and juries are not medical professionals, they cannot be expected to know what was actually negligent behavior and what was simply a fluke accident. The affidavit of merit is a critical component of a plaintiff’s case, and should be procured with the assistance of their medical malpractice attorney.

The Medical Standard of Care

An affidavit of merit ultimately compares the medical professional’s behavior to what is considered to be the standard within that subfield of medicine. Courts call this the “medical standard of care,” and it is often described as the level of care that a reasonably knowledgeable and skilled medical professional with a similar background and experience would have provided under the circumstances that led to the case of medical malpractice

There are some challenging questions to ask with regards to determining the standard of care, such as what constitutes sufficient background knowledge and skill. However, the critical question the courts need to ask is, “Would a similarly skilled medical professional provide the plaintiff with the same level of treatment under similar circumstances?” If the answer is no, and you incurred personal injury as a result, your medical malpractice case is likely valid.

Getting Professional Counsel

For most victims of medical malpractice, the thought of building a case and obtaining a valid affidavit of merit seems like an insurmountable task, especially when they are dealing with the trauma of experiencing personal injury due to a medical provider’s negligence. This is why medical malpractice attorneys provide such immense value to the process of successfully pursuing litigation.

For years, the attorneys at H&P Law have been helping medical malpractice victims in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada fight for their rights to fair compensation. Contact H&P Law today to discuss your case and get direction on how to proceed.

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