What is a Doctor’s Duty of Care?

When you need medical care, you have the right to expect a certain standard of care from all medical professionals, including doctors, surgeons, pharmacists, nurses, specialists, therapists, dentists, and other providers. Medical professionals have a duty of care to provide proper medical care according to the norms and procedures established by the industry. To prove medical malpractice, you must prove that the care you received fell below the standard of care that every patient is entitled to receive and that the negligent care resulted in your injury and damages.

How is the Duty of Care Defined?

When filing a medical malpractice claim, you must demonstrate to the court that the doctor, nurse, hospital, or other medical professional either did not do something they should have done or they did something they should not have done. The duty of care is used to prove this negligence by comparing the actions or inactions of the provider to other providers under similar circumstances.

The duty of care is based on the acceptable standard of care set by the industry. The duty is established by reviewing how other doctors would treat a patient given the same or similar circumstances. For example, given a set of symptoms, would doctors be expected to perform certain diagnostic tests to rule out or confirm a diagnosis? Another example would be counting supplies before closing the surgical site after an operation to ensure nothing has been accidentally left inside the open surgical site.

In addition to performing certain tasks, a duty of care also requires a physician to take steps not to harm the patient through negligence. For instance, a doctor prescribes medication without performing tests or checking to see if other medications the patient is taking will cause an adverse reaction with the new medication. Another example of negligence may be when a nurse fails to provide the adequate dose of medication in the hospital because she did not read the chart or double check the patient identification.

Common Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice claims can arise from many circumstances, including but not limited to:

  • Failing to diagnose or providing a misdiagnosis of a condition (e. failing to diagnose cancer or diagnosing it as another condition);
  • Prenatal testing errors or failing to diagnose a health condition with the mother that can put her life and the baby’s life in jeopardy;
  • Birthing errors that cause injury to the mother or infant;
  • Hospital errors and negligence such as dosage errors and anesthesia errors or failing to clean and sterilize implements or equipment;
  • Prescription medication errors, including dosage mistakes or providing the wrong medication to a patient;
  • Failing to treat a medical condition properly;
  • Errors during pre-op, surgery, and post-op; and,
  • Failing to provide informed consent — A doctor has a duty to discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with a treatment plan so that you can make an “informed” decision how you want to proceed.

Medical malpractice can result from many acts or inactions. You have a short time to file your claim to recover compensation for your injuries, including money for your economic damages (i.e. lost wages and medical bills) and your noneconomic damages (i.e. physical pain and emotional suffering).

Failing to file your claim before the statute of limitations expires results in a denial of your claim. In other words, you are responsible for the total cost and loss associated with the injury caused by a doctor’s negligence.

Call an Ontario Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help

The team of lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have experience handling medical malpractice cases. Our lawyers can help you seek justice for the injury caused by a negligent doctor.

Call our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now. We offer free consultations and case evaluations.

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