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What does duty of care mean in medical malpractice cases?

People who are harmed by the actions of a doctor might opt to take legal action against the doctor. There are several elements of a medical malpractice case that must be considered when you are preparing a case. One element that must be present is the duty of care. Knowing about a doctor's duty of care is cruical if you are planning on filing a medical malpractice claim.

What is the duty of care of doctors?

Doctors don't owe everyone a duty of care. Instead, the doctor owes his or her patients a duty of care. In order for you to file a medical malpractice claim, the doctor must owe you a duty of care. This means that you wouldn't be able to sue a doctor for medical malpractice if the doctor walked past you while you were choking on a sidewalk. A doctor-patient relationship must be established in order for the doctor to owe you a duty of care.

How is the duty of care determined?

The duty of care is determined according to how a reasonably competent doctor would react in the same circumstances as your doctor was placed in. This takes the location of the doctor, the training of the doctor, and the skill of the doctor into account. That means that an oncologist in a major cancer center is held to a higher standard than a general practitioner in a small town clinic if they were both treating a cancer patient.

Once the duty of care is established, you can move forward with building your case for compensation. This can include determining if any other parties, such as a hospital, might be liable for the injuries you suffered.

Source: FindLaw, "What is a Doctor's Duty of Care?," accessed June 03, 2016

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