Care standards, more commonly called standards of care, are mechanisms by which courts establish the alleged negligence of health care providers charged with malpractice suits. According to Legal Match, standards of care are frequently determined by evaluating the performance and abilities of doctors practicing near the doctor accused of malpractice. In so doing, a number of subsequent considerations come into play.
Three common standards employed by legal authorities are the national standard, the locality rule and the respectable minority rule. According to Legal Match, the national standard demands that any doctor be capable of performing at a similar level to another doctor specialized in the field who is subject to the same basic working conditions. The locality rule is slightly different, mandating that a doctor be capable of performing up to standards common to other physicians in a specific geographical area. One logic applied to this particular standard is that doctors in rural environments, for example, cannot be expected to have the same resources or up-to-date training as those working in more developed, metropolitan environments. The respectable minority rule, the third standard, applies more to the course of treatment adopted by the doctor in question. If the physician chose a treatment that was unorthodox or questionable to a significant number of colleagues, the physician must defend the treatment by demonstrating that a respected, accredited, although limited portion of the professional community endorses said treatment.
According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, in malpractice cases, attorneys for both the plaintiff and defense commonly call expert medical personnel to act as witnesses and to verify whether or not standards of care have been met. In this sense, doctors accused of malpractice are evaluated by their peers in accordance with the particular standard of care recognized by the court overseeing the trial.