The Medical Standard of Care in a Virginia Medical Malpractice Case | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury during a medical procedure and want to pursue a medical malpractice claim, you will likely learn about the “medical standard of care” when approaching most Virginia medical malpractice injury attorneys.

Physicians and nurses have a medical standard of care that they are held to in the eyes of the law. This standard, and whether or not your doctor or nurse violated the standard, is critical when determining whether or not you or your loved one has a valid medical malpractice injury claim.  

In order for you to be well-informed when contemplating whether or not to take legal action, here is the standard of care in Virginia, which is codified in Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-581.20:

In order for any action against a physician, clinical psychologist, podiatrist, dentist, nurse, hospital or other health care provider to recover damages alleged to have been caused by medical malpractice by which the acts or omissions so complained of are alleged to have occurred in this commonwealth (Virginia), the standard of care by which the acts or omissions are to be judged shall be that degree of skill and diligence practiced by a reasonably prudent practitioner in the field of practice or specialty in this Commonwealth.

Simply put, the medical standard of care in any malpractice case is the level of conduct and performance that a reasonably prudent medical practitioner would be held to in their given practice or specialty in Virginia.  




However, the story doesn’t end there. Your medical malpractice injury attorney has to analyze whether the medical standard of care that is acceptable in Virginia is superseded by the standard of care of the locality where your injury occurred. But, this is relevant only if a party can prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (which is just lawyer-speak for more than likely than not, or 50.01%), that the health care services and health care facilities available in the locality, give rise to a more appropriate stand of care.

Essentially, the medical standard of care that a medical practitioner will be held by is usually going to be a statewide standard unless the local practice is deemed more appropriate.

It is presumed that any physician, nurse, surgeon, etc. who is licensed to practice in Virginia shall know the statewide standard of care for the specialty or field of medicine in which they are qualified and certified. This presumption also applies to out-of-state physicians who qualify for licensure in Virginia. This presumption also applies to any nurse who is licensed by a state that participates in something called the Nurse Licensure Compact which is codified in Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-581.20.

Basically, this means that any physician or nurse who practices in Virginia will be presumed to know, at the very least, the state medical standard of care. This means any question of whether or not that physician or nurse knew of the standard of care will not be at issue, only whether that standard of care was followed during your medical procedure.