How does duty of care affect a medical malpractice lawsuit?

A person who has been harmed by inadequate medical care has legal rights. One of these rights is the right to seek compensation for the injury through a medical malpractice lawsuit. One of the considerations in these lawsuits is the duty of care that the doctor owed the patient.

What is the duty of care?

Duty of care is a concept that means that the physician had a duty to provide you with adequate medical care. This means that you and the physician must have had a doctor-patient relationship at the time the harm occurred. That means that if you ask a doctor for generic advice, but you aren’t the doctor’s patient, you likely won’t have the relationship necessary to say that the physician had a duty of care.

Why is the duty of care important?

Generally, a doctor can’t be held liable for harm that someone suffers unless that person was under that doctor’s care. The duty of care is an important concept because it sets the terms of establishing the doctor-patient relationship. It is also important because it requires that the doctor provide care with a degree of diligence, skill and care that would be given by any competent doctor who is working under similar circumstances.

Establishing the case for duty of care in a medical malpractice case is only one of the aspects of the case you will have to prove. You also have to establish the concept of malpractice you suffered, such as improper diagnosis or substandard care. All of these are crucial elements in a medical malpractice case.

Source: FindLaw, “What Is a Doctor’s Duty of Care?,” accessed Feb. 19, 2016