Scope of Practise and Standards of Care

3 09 2010

A standard of care is defined by what is considered acceptable in a given field; while a scope of practice is defined by the legal guidelines for an individual with the specific level of skill for that position.  Each member of a medical facility has a set of duties and obligations that they are expected to fulfill, and likewise have duties for which they are prohibited from being responsible, this is known as the scope of practice (Fremgen, 60).  Standard of care is a term used to give meaning to the basic level of skill and consideration that medical professionals are required to use with their patients; the care being the basic equivalent to similar professionals in the same field (Fremgen, 55).

For example, optometrists are prohibited by their scope of practice from performing surgery on patients and prescribing controlled substances, and in an attempt to redefine their scope of practice; they have proposed bills to the American Medical Association and the FDA to have these skills accepted for their profession (Hedger).  The standard of care for optometrists though is constantly changing as equipment and technological advances become more available and mainstream, redefining for optometrists what are considered reasonable actions for similarly skilled optometrists in similar situations (Corcoran).

If a professional fails to treat patients within the parameters of the standard of care for their field, they may be found negligent by a court of law.  If a professional acts outside of the boundaries of their scope of practice, they could be found criminally at fault in a court of law.  The two work together to establish the minimum expectations for an employee in a specific role, and define the boundaries of what they are permitted to legally undertake.



Works Cited

Corcoran, Kevin J. “New Tests Becoming Standard of Care.” Optometric Management. Aug. 2002. Web. 11 Sept. 2010. <;.

Fremgen, Ph.D., Bonnie F. Medical Law and Ethics. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.

Hedger, Brian. ” Several States Face Battles over Optometry Scope of Practice :: April 13, 2009 … American Medical News.” American Medical Association – Physicians, Medical Students & Patients (AMA). 13 Apr. 2009. Web. 11 Sept. 2010. <;.





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