A Law Career

Professional Standards And Documentation Are The Keys To Hospital Negligence Claims

by Ruby Mckinney

When hospital negligence lawyers examine possible claims from prospective clients, they're almost always focused on two factors: the professional standards of care for whatever treatment the person received and how well the hospital documents those standards of care. It's important to understand both of these factors before you move ahead with a claim, so read on to learn more.

Standard of Care

Every medical decision has some standard of care. There isn't a set-in-stone legal definition of how to apply dressing to a wound, for example. However, the law recognizes that a qualified professional knows what is or isn't acceptable treatment. If a nurse failed to administer antibiotics to somebody who had a major burn, other nurses would recognize that as negligent care.

To be clear, the standard of care doesn't mean everybody has to do the job the same way. Instead, it means that all professionals should recognize what someone did as reasonable. A surgeon might use an older technique, for example, to close an incision. That doesn't automatically make it negligence, even if the surgeon is the last doctor on Earth still doing it that way. If other doctors would consider it old-fashioned, but appropriate, then it's fine.

Showing Something Is Outside the Standard

Hospital neglect lawyers will frequently consult with expert witnesses. These tend to be people who are familiar with the current standards of care in certain fields. Oftentimes, such witnesses teach, write books, and even establish standards for governing bodies or medical organizations. They can tell a lawyer whether a hospital's staff handled treatment in a safe and acceptable manner.


It's normal for the hospital to defend itself and its staff from claims. The go-to tool for the defense is likely to be documentation. If you ever wondered why you have to sign several papers when you go to the ER for little things, such as treating swelling from a bee sting, this is it.

The hospital will want to prove that its staff members followed all procedures to the letter. If there was any deviation, they'll want to document why it occurred and why it was appropriate. Similarly, they'll have signatures from staff members and the patient to assert that everybody consented to all of the decisions.

Note that solid documentation doesn't intimidate hospital neglect lawyers. They can ask an outside doctor to examine a patient. If the exam shows something different than what the documents say, the lawyer will present this in the claim.

Keep these tips in mind when talking with hospital negligence lawyers near you.