The true meaning of the term “the standard of care” is a frequent topic of discussion among emergency physicians as they evaluate and perform care on patients. This article, using legal cases and dictums, reviews the legal history and definitions of the standard of care. The goal is to provide the working physician with a practical and useful model of the standard of care to help guide daily practice.
There is no doubt that in today’s practice of emergency medicine it is imperative to be familiar with how the law relates to administrative and clinical practice. It is my pleasure to announce, as section editor, the new Legal Medicine section of the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. It is anticipated that the articles will cover a variety of areas and cases in the law. Some articles may focus on a particular disease or entity, with representative malpractice cases, and clinical caveats. Other articles may focus on legal concepts that enter the arena of emergency medicine. I have provided brief examples of each of these in this initial manuscript. Other articles could also cover original research related to law such as the standard of care in a given clinical situation or legal concepts such as consent, do-not-resuscitate, and AMA among others. I am hopeful that it will be of great interest to the readers. We welcome submissions and contributions for consideration.