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What are the doctor-patient relationship and standard of care?

When it comes to getting medical care, there are some very important points that must be considered. One of these is whether a doctor-patient relationship has been established. The existence of a doctor-patient relationship is one of the elements necessary for a person to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What is the doctor-patient relationship?

The doctor-patient relationship is established when a doctor agrees to care for a patient. The relationship means that the doctor has a duty to treat the patient to the best of his or her ability. Without the establishment of the doctor-patient relationship, a doctor can't be held liable for the outcome of a person's medical condition. For example, a doctor would have to treat a patient who has a stroke during an appointment at his practice. That same doctor wouldn't have to render aid to a person who is having a stroke at a retail outlet where the doctor just happens to be shopping.

What type of care is required once the doctor-patient relationship is established?

Doctors have to provide medical care that meets the current standards of care. The standard of care isn't one that is the same from one instance to another. Standard of care is based on what a competent physician of the same skill level with the same resources would do in a comparable situation. This means that a doctor at a small, rural practice wouldn't be held to the same standard of care as a prominent specialist at a large, state-of-the-art hospital.

If you have been injured by a medical professional, the doctor-patient relationship and the standard of care are important components of a medical malpractice case. Learning how these concepts apply to your case can help you to decide how to handle your complaints.

Source: FindLaw, "What Is a Doctor's Duty of Care?," accessed Jan. 08, 2016

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