When you fall ill or sustain a serious injury, it is important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. When you visit the doctor’s office, you trust that they have the right skills and adequate resources to properly diagnose and treat your condition(s) so that you can carry on with your day-to-day life to the fullest possible extent.
Unfortunately, doctors, like every else, make mistakes. And if these professionals misstep while treating you, the consequences can be devastating. If you are hurt due to substandard medical care, you may be eligible for financial restitution via a medical malpractice claim. To hold a doctor liable, however, you must prove that they breached their duty of care to you.
What is a duty of care?
Legally speaking, a healthcare provider has a duty to provide a reasonable standard of care expected of any competent doctor, surgeon or nurse operating under similar circumstances. If they fail to live up to this expectation, and that failure leads to injuries, then you may have reason to pursue damages against the provider who treated you.
A doctor’s duty of care may include the following:
- Performing a medical examination to diagnose the patient based on their symptoms
- Ordering tests to confirm or negate a diagnosis
- Referring the patient to a specialist for further care
- Disclosing the outcome of the tests and diagnosis in a timely manner
- Advising the patient on available treatment options and reasonable risks associated with each (including side effects of any prescribed medications)
- Monitoring the patient’s response to treatment
A doctor’s breach of duty can be accidental or intentional.
Protecting your rights
A poor medical outcome does not necessarily mean that a doctor failed in their duty of care to you. With that said, if you believe that you or someone you love may be a victim of medical negligence, you should not hesitate to explore your legal options.