The last time this space discussed medical malpractice we touched on the difference between the standards that are used in a traditional negligence case and those used in medical malpractice actions. You may recall it has to do with the “reasonable person” standard used in the former cases, and the reasonable professional exercising the accepted standard of care in the latter. While this may make sense in theory, how, in practice does one know which standard to apply?
Connecticut courts have managed to address this question though a series of case decisions and have come up with some basic rules. These decisions are interpretations of both statutes and court cases that have gone before, and thus have the force of precedent. To answer the question of whether a suit is simple negligence or medical malpractice, in general we would need to look at who is being sued, and what was the alleged action or inaction that led to the suit.
The cases imply that there is a three-part test when determining if the standard of care is that of a regular negligence case or a medical malpractice case. First, is the person being sued a medical professional or health care provider, and is he or she being sued in that professional capacity? Also, is the negligence that is being alleged by the plaintiff the kind that would be expected to come from a patient’s relationship with a medical professional, and that this negligence is of a nature that is medical and specialized? Finally, the negligence alleged to have been committed must have related in some substantial way to a treatment or diagnosis that would require the professional to use the exercise of medical judgment.
As one might intuit, entire treatises could be written on the legal specifics of each one of these prongs of the test, which would be beyond the scope of our inquiry here. For now, it is enough to understand that the difference in standards between simple negligence and medical malpractice can have a significant impact on a case, and that determining when each standard applies can be complex. For these reasons, people who wish to seek compensation for medical expenses and other damages may wish to reach out to a Connecticut attorney.