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How Duty of Care Applies to Medical Malpractice Cases

By William Chanfrau, Jr. on March 28, 2016

A doctor speaking with a patientThe lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau have helped countless clients throughout the Daytona Beach area, offering expert legal counsel for all sorts of cases. Their legal experience is perhaps most important when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits, which holds health care workers accountable for their negligence and mistkaes.

"Duty of care" is an important aspect of many medical malpractice cases. Let's go over what it means and how it applies to legal cases involving medical errors.

Defining "Standard of Care"

To understand duty of care, let's first look at standard of care, which is a related principle and important in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The standard of care essentially means the level of medical care that a competent and skilled health care professional would provide a patient in a given circumstance. A standard of care for doctors, surgeons, and health care workers in general essentially means that they will help patients without doing harm in the process.

Defining "Duty of Care"

A duty of care refers to a medical professional's duty to abide by the standard of care. In essence, with a standard of care established as the norm, it is a health care professional's duty to abide by this standard.

This all sounds clear cut and simple enough. But let's see how these relate to medical malpractice cases.

How These Elements Relate to Medical Malpractice

When a medical professional fails to do his or her duty and does not provide treatment in line with the standard of care, this may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. This may be referred to a breach of duty, and the results of this breach of duty may be serious injury to a patient or even death.

Let's provide a few examples to help illustrate what this all means.

Examples of Breaching the Duty of Care

Say a patient comes to the doctor complaining of symptoms that would suggest a serious medical problem. The doctor has x-rays taken and upon examining the patient does not diagnose any health issues. The patient develops lung cancer, and the x-rays and symptoms exhibited should have pointed to this condition had the doctor been more attentive. This is a misdiagnosis/non-diagnosis, and breach of the duty of care.

Say a patient is in the hospital to have one of her kidneys operated upon. As the surgery is about to be performed, a miscommunication or mix-up in records results in the surgeon operating on the wrong side of the body. This is a major surgical error and yet another example of a medical professional failing to abide by the standard of care.

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help You

Seeking legal action against a doctor or surgeon can be complicated, and it takes real legal know how to hold negligent people accountable in a court of law. By working with a skilled attorney, you will receive the strong counsel and guidance you need during every phase of a lawsuit. We will do the complicated legal work so you can focus on recovery, healing, and wellness.

Speak with the Lawyers of Chanfrau & Chanfrau

For more information about your legal rights following a serious medical mistake, it's important that you contact our team of skilled team of attorneys today. The legal team of Chanfrau & Chanfrau will fight diligently for you in your time of legal need.

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