As a patient, you may or may not know what your rights are when you seek medical care at health facilities. However, specific laws govern how a doctor must render his or her services to you, failure to which they will be held accountable for what transpires.
A doctor must owe a duty of care to patients before their competency in executing that duty can be judged. In America jurisprudence, someone doesn’t have an affirmative duty to help a patient if a special relationship – like patient-doctor, client-lawyer, or ward-guardian – doesn’t exist. For instance, a doctor walking by the roadside has no duty to help a fainting pedestrian. So, if the doctor goes ahead and walks right past the patient, the patient cannot hold a malpractice action against him or her, irrespective of the harm. But if the doctor chooses to help the patient in any way, then he or she becomes responsible for any damage that happens from any negligence during that help. Patients who are unsure about whether their case has a chance can consult with a Miami medical malpractice attorney for the best legal advice.
The doctor’s duty of care is the most critical element in a bid to determine whether he or she is responsible for medical malpractice. Other items in a negligence claim include breach of duty, the existence of harm, and causation. So, often, the patient or their lawyer has to prove duty.
A doctor owes the patient several duties. At a minimum, he or she must have the requisite skill and knowledge that’s possessed by the average healthcare provider who practices similar specialty as them. This is considering the medical knowledge that’s available to the doctor. In a layman’s language, this is a measure of what the average member would typically or customarily do in the same situation.
Additionally, the law expects the doctor to exercise reasonable diligence and care while applying such skill and knowledge. Lastly, he or she must use the best judgment in the exercise of this skill and expertise.
When the physician lacks the ability or knowledge or fails to exercise reasonable care or use his or her best judgment, then a medical malpractice claim can arise. The doctor’s duty to practice reasonable care, diligence, and skill are needed irrespective of whether or not they are paid and is therefore applicable to a solution that’s provided gratuitously.
Duty to advise and warn
Physicians must inform or warn patients about the diagnosis as well as potential dangers that a treatment poses on time. The patient has a right to know about the reasonable risks that any treatment or procedure presents, so they can make an informed decision whether or not to proceed with it. The doctor is also required to notify the patient of any possible consequences of treatment that may have on other people. For instance, the patient needs to know if the drugs cause drowsiness because of the potential dangers that the condition may cause to others when the patient drives or operates heavy machinery.
Duty to supervise
A physician can entrust responsibilities to other qualified medical caregivers, as long as other physicians would find it reasonable to do so under a similar situation – which goes back to the general standard of care that we discussed earlier on.