When patients receive medical care, they should have the comfort of knowing they are under the care of competent medical professionals who are consistent in their work. One way of better ensuring that patients receive that quality of care is through established standards of care that all doctors should adhere to. Standards of care is what most doctors would agree reflects the degree of care and skill that a reasonable and competent physician should exercise in the care of a patient.

In some cases, there are specific guidelines concerning the standard of care for individual diseases or bodily conditions. In the instance of many cancers, standard of care may include the number of lymph nodes extracted during treatment or whether a specific therapy is offered to patients within the high risk group. When these standards of care are not met, the patient is receiving insufficient care and may suffer harm, injury or even death should the poor treatment continue.

Despite this, there are instances in which even though malpractice is suspected, the victim ends up losing the suit in court because there isn't enough evidence suggesting the medical professional breached any standards of care in treating the patient.