Medical malpractice

Duty of Care

What is a Healthcare Provider’s Duty of Care?

October 22, 2015 by Carrie Capouellez

In a medical malpractice case, the injured patient must first establish that a healthcare provider owed him or her a legal duty of care. All healthcare providers, whether they are physicians, nurses, therapists, etc., owe a duty of care to the patient. After demonstrating that a medical provider owed a duty of care, the medical malpractice plaintiff must also establish what the appropriate level of care was under the circumstances. The doctor or other provider’s failure to meet this appropriate level of care is what proves their medical negligence.

How To Prove The Duty of Care in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Proving a healthcare provider owed a legal duty of care to a patient requires that there was a relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient at the time the medical malpractice occurred. That physician-patient relationship should be voluntary and entered into by mutual agreement. Medical records can generally provide evidence sufficient to prove the relationship existed at the time of the medical error.

If the medical records are unclear and/or more proof is needed, witness testimony can be used to show that the patient chose this particular medical provider, submitted to examinations for the purpose of treatment of a certain health problem or condition, and treatment with this healthcare provider was ongoing.

What is the Standard of Care?

Once you have established that a medical provider had a legal duty of care to a patient, the next question the law asks is what standard their conduct should be judged against. A health care provider should treat his or her patients with the degree of care and skill of the average healthcare provider with a similar practice, taking into account the medical knowledge available to the provider at the time the medical malpractice took place. The standard of care is the first element of a medical malpractice claim.

After establishing the standard of care and showing that a medical provider failed to meet it, the medical negligence claimant must show that this breach of the standard of care caused them physical harm. There must be a direct link between the breach and the injury, which is called causation.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Lopez McHugh have handled medical negligence claims against therapists, nurses, doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers and institutions. We are proud to work with our fellow Pennsylvania residents to hold medical providers accountable for their errors. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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