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The "locality" rule, which is limited to Montana communities, is abandoned. It appears proper to revise the rule that now limits the standard of care to be exercised by a general practitioner to be determined by that standard established in similar communities in Montana. The geographical restriction of the state boundary is too narrow in view of the necessity of expert testimony; yet, the national standard should not exclude local considerations which face rural general practitioners. Accordingly, a non-board-certified general practitioner is held to the standard of care of a reasonably competent general practitioner acting in the same or similar community in the United States in the same or similar circumstances. "Similar circumstances" permits consideration by the trier of fact of legitimate local factors affecting the ordinary standard of care including the knowledge and experience of the general practitioner, commensurate with the skill of other competent physicians of similar training and experience, with respect to the type of illness or injury he confronts and the resources, facilities and options available to him at the time. Anything previously held to the contrary is hereby reversed, prospectively as hereafter stated.
The patient was treated by doctor, a non-board certified general practitioner, in an emergency room after he was kicked by a horse. The patient suffered a broken leg, and the doctor applied a long leg cast. When the cast was removed, the patient's leg was bowed, which required corrective surgery. The patient sued the doctor for medical malpractice. The trial court granted the doctor's motion for a directed verdict, and the patient appealed.
Is a non-board-certified general practitioner held to the standard of care of a "reasonably competent general practitioner acting in the same or similar community in the United States in the same or similar circumstances"?
The court reversed and remanded. The court held that the trial court erred when it granted the motion for directed verdict because it weighed the patient's evidence, which was a power reserved to the jury. On remand, the trial court was to apply a revised standard of care for non-board certified general practitioners, which the court fashioned in its opinion. The court overruled the "locality" rule and held that the standard of care to be applied was that of a reasonably competent general practitioner acting in the same or similar community in the United States in the same or similar circumstances.