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How is a physician's duty of care described and determined?

Walking into a doctor's office or rushing into an emergency room, there is a certain amount of trust one puts into doctors and healthcare staff. That trust is based on the idea that doctors are going to make the best decision for you or your loved one who is in need of care. While most visits to healthcare facilities go as planned or expected, occasionally, something goes awry. If it results in further or unnecessary injury to a patient, there may be a case for medical malpracticee.

Responsibility of a medical professional isn't like the responsibility due in other business relationships. Doctors are expected to uphold a level of care based on the patient-doctor relationship. Once a doctor begins treatment of a patient, such as in patient-doctor relationships, if the patient receives an injury due to the negligence of the doctor, then the doctor may be liable for that injury. Negligence could make itself known when a doctor makes a misdiagnosis or fails to diagnose, just to name a few.

In order to prove that a doctor's duty of care was not upheld, the skill, care, and diligence of the doctor is compared to that of a reasonable physician under similar circumstances. It will also be determined whether any exigent circumstances existed and the equipment and facilities will be assessed.

Expert testimony will often be sought in medical malpracticee cases in which a plaintiff alleges doctor or hospital staff negligence. These experts may be those in the field who would have opted for a different treatment or would have diagnosed a patient's ailment more accurately. All of this evidence piled together can indicate negligence on behalf of the medical provider or professional. Damages could be sought in these instances.

Source: FindLaw, "What Is a Doctor's Duty of Care?," Accessed October 23, 2017

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