Enforcing the Standards of Care Saves Lives

Enforcing the Standards of Care Saves Lives

Research has shown that some 90,000 to 180,000 Americans die each year as a result of preventable medical errors. Patients who are given the wrong medication, are scheduled for unnecessary procedures, or are neglected by health care providers who do not take the time to listen to their patients, lose their lives far too often. The practice of medicine is supposed to be governed by standards of care, and when the standards are not followed, the consequences for American families are devastating.

Many years ago, what doctors, nurses, hospitals and nursing homes could do to stay within the bounds of the law was considered “more art than science” or a nebulous matter of “judgment.” But research by America’s best teaching hospitals and by medical societies studying the major areas of medicine such as cardiology, surgery and obstetrics, allowed standards to be established that are backed up by evidence, and a track record of success. These groups are able to publish these standards in journal articles, books, and what is more broadly called the “scholarly literature of medicine.” Health care providers need to stay current on these standards and make sure that they follow them.

These safety rules within the field of medicine are not unlike safety rules that cars and trucks are subject to on the highway. An 18-wheeler that is routinely going too fast might get away with it a few times, but eventually we know that the consequences of recklessly operating heavy trucks fall on innocent victims driving cars alongside them. Likewise, a nursing home, hospital or doctor that ignores the rules may get away with it for a while, but eventually lives will be lost as a result of subpar practices, rule breaking and carelessness. We all notice how doctors and nurses seem to want to spend less and less time with actual patients. That tendency was created by insurance companies and hospital corporations pushing them to try to drive greater profits. Nurses and doctors need to resist that pressure and make sure that the protection of human life is their top priority.

When hospital corporations, doctors, nurses or nursing homes violate the standards of care, the legal system needs to be there to make sure that the standards are enforced. By enforcing the rules, judges and juries make it clear, not only to health care providers, but to all Americans that following the safety rules that exist for everyone’s protection is not optional. Medical and nursing standards of care exist for the protection of the most valuable thing there is — human life.

Standing up for standards of care saves lives. 


Research has shown that some 90,000 to 180,000 Americans die each year as a result of preventable medical errors. Patients who are given the wrong medication, are scheduled for unnecessary procedures, or are neglected by health care providers who do not take the time to listen to their patients, lose their lives far too often. The practice of medicine is supposed to be governed by standards of care, and when the standards are not followed, the consequences for American families are devastating.