Understanding the duty of care in medical malpractice cases

Medical malpractice claims are important for victims to understand, which is why understanding the elements of a medical malpractice claim is also helpful. Although the laws regarding medical malpractice may vary somewhat by state, the doctor's duty of care is always a part of a medical malpractice claim.

medical malpractice claim may allow a victim or their family to recover compensation for the physical, financial and emotional injuries they have suffered because of the negligence of a doctor, medical care professional or hospital. In all circumstances, a doctor or other medical care professional owes the victim a duty of care, which is usually referred to as the standard of care.

The standard of care refers to what a reasonable doctor or medical care professional in similar circumstances would have done. If the standard of care delivered by the doctor to the victim fell below that threshold, the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice. The doctor owes a duty to act as a reasonably prudent doctor would in the circumstances. To determine what the standard of care would be, the court may evaluate the differential diagnosis and determine whether the doctor carefully reviewed the patient's medical history and symptoms, examine what tests were ordered and if they were correctly interpreted, along with other considerations.

Medical malpractice can result in a worsened condition for the victim or the loss of a loved one for family members. As a result, it is necessary to be familiar with medical malpractice rights and protections and know what to do if you are harmed by the negligence of a doctor or other medical care provider.

What happens when victims have been incorrectly diagnosed?

As this blog recently discussed, medical malpractice protections are an important legal resource for victims of medical negligence and doctor error. But what happens if the patient was not diagnosed correctly? Medical malpractice protections also extend to circumstances when there has been an erroneous diagnosis and can help in those situations as well.

In circumstances of a failure to diagnose, erroneous diagnosis or delayed diagnosis, victims may also be able to pursue medical malpractice protections because the medical care provider may have violated their standard of care in failing to diagnose the patient's medical condition or failing to do so properly. If the medical care professional failed to consider a diagnosis that another medical care professional would have reasonably considered in the circumstances, or failed to order the correct tests of interpret them correctly, they may be liable for medical malpractice.

If the medical care professional simply fails to consider the victim's symptoms, or dismisses them, they may be considered medically negligent and liable for medical malpractice damages. When the failure to diagnose, erroneous diagnosis or delayed diagnosis results in a worsening condition for the victim, they may be able to pursue damages against the negligent medical care provider. Failure to treat or treating the wrong medical condition because of doctor error can result in additional harm to the victim.

Medical malpractice protections protect victims who have been incorrectly diagnosed or have otherwise suffered harm because of the negligence of a medical care provider. It is important for victims of medical malpractice and their families to be familiar with this complex area of the law to understand the variety of legal options that may be available to them when harmed.

What prompts the most medical malpractice claims?

Medicine is a complicated field. Every part or system of the body has its own specialists. Patients seeking care with what he or she thought was a common cold have been known to be redirected through a whole series of procedures and experts, only to come up dry on an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes those delays resulted in the patient becoming sicker or even dying.

That's perhaps the stereotypical narrative many in New York city embrace when they imagine filing a medical malpractice claim. The reality is that the basis of medical malpractice rests in the concept of a failure to deliver an expected standard of care. And under that rubric, a wide range of issues can serve as the foundation of a claim. The question then becomes how to find an attorney and assess the merits of the case.

What follows is a brief list that we believe most legal experts would agree form the bases of the most frequent medical malpractice claims.

  • Breach of patient confidentiality: When you go to the doctor there are reams of documents and forms to fill out. What you might not know is that they are necessary because of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). Your health information is your business and providers are liable if they allow that information to become public and cause harm.
  • Birth injuries: For all of the thousands of years of human procreation and advances in medicine and technology, medical negligence by doctors and nurses still often result in injury to mothers and newborns. In some instances, that negligence causes wrongful death.
  • Hospital negligence: Doctors and nurses are the care delivers. They are supported by hospital staff backed by hospital policies. Inadequate policies and insufficient staffing or training can all lead to hospital errors that prompt medical malpractice claims.
  • Failed treatment, misdiagnosis, and surgical error: These account for the greatest number of malpractice claims. They represent the most egregious examples of failing to deliver the standard of care expected by reasonable persons.

It is worth to note that not all mistakes rise to the level of malpractice. Knowing when an event does or does not is something that comes with skill and experience.