What is a Doctor's Duty of Care?

What is a Doctor's Duty of Care?

Posted By Maher Law Firm || 20-Feb-2018

Chances are, if you are thinking of filing a medical malpractice claim, you might have come across the term “duty of care” while researching what this might entail. A doctor’s duty of care is a critical element in these types of cases and, in fact, all negligence cases hinge on the accepted standards of care. If it cannot be proven that a physician owed a duty of care to a patient, that patient would not have an action for malpractice against him or her.

Read on to learn more about a doctor’s duty of care and what it could mean for your medical malpractice case.

Defining Duty of Care

A doctor must owe a duty of care to a patient before anyone can judge is or her competency in performing that duty. For example, if a doctor is dining at a restaurant when a fellow diner suddenly has a heart attack, he or she does not have a duty of care to that person. Once the doctor begins to assist that diner, however, he or she would be liable for any injuries that result from negligence that might occur during his or her assistance to the ailing diner. Of course, this is an extreme example. In most cases, establishing an owed duty of care, or a doctor-patient relationship, is generally one of the easiest steps in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Some things that can be used to support the existence of a doctor-patient relationship include:

  • The doctor was providing ongoing treatment
  • The patient submitted to examinations for the purpose of treatment for a health condition
  • The patient chose to be treated by this specific doctor

When a doctor-patient relationship exists, that doctor owes his or her patient the duty of care and treatment with the degree of skill, care, and diligence that is either possessed by or expected of a reasonably competent physician under the same or similar circumstances. Circumstances are defined as the area of medicine the doctor practices, the accepted practices of other physicians in the area, the level of equipment and facilities available at the time, and any exigent circumstances. For this, testimony from other practicing physicians with the same or similar skills, training, certification, and experience as the defendant will be necessary.

Doctors Have a Duty to Warn and Advise

Part of a doctor’s duty of care is to effectively communicate adequate information to their patients. This includes disclosing diagnoses and providing warnings in a timely manner. Doctors must also inform patients of dangers associated with prescribed drugs and of the reasonable risks of any procedure or treatment. Additionally, a doctor also has a duty to disclose any information regarding the possible consequences of treatments that might impact third parties. For example, if a medication could cause drowsiness, the doctor should disclose this since it is foreseeable that others might be injured if the patient operated a vehicle or heavy machinery while under the influence of the prescribed medication.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Orlando

Medical errors often result in severe, life-altering injuries and, in some cases, death. At The Maher Law Firm, our medical malpractice attorneys in Orlando have been representing individuals who have been injured by the oversight or negligence of medical professionals for more than 40 years. Let us assist you in obtaining the compensation you need and deserve. We will do everything possible, including taking your case to trial, in order to secure a favorable outcome on your behalf.

Contact our office today at (855) 338-0720 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team. Whether you are filing a claim for yourself or a loved one, we have the determination and passion to effectively represent you.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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