The purpose of medical malpractice law is to protect patients from substandard medical care and to compensate them for injuries sustained as a result of substandard care. Each medical malpractice case serves an additional function by further delineating the medical care that is legally acceptable in a particular field.
Although medical school training, medical licensing requirements, and board certification requirements are based on national standards, many states rely on local practice standards to determine the applicable standard of care in medical malpractice lawsuits. Jurisdictions that maintain local practice standards may inhibit the incorporation of scientific progress into practice standards. In addition, adherence to the locality rule can create uncertainty for physicians when they must choose between following local practice standards and national, evidence-based standards for care.
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