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Doctors who breach duty of care may be guilty of malpractice

If a Maryland patient suffers further injury or illness as a result of a doctor's negligence, they may file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for their care and the hospital who hired them. Generally, a successful medical malpractice lawsuit will be based on whether the doctor violated their duty of care to the patient in question.

What exactly is this duty of care? In the United States, doctors have a duty to assist injured or ill people only if there is an established doctor-patient relationship. This generally means that once a doctor decides to aid an ailing patient, they will be liable for any damages that occur as a result of their negligent care.

If there is a doctor-patient relationship between the parties, the doctor has a responsibility to treat them with a certain level of skill and care. This standard is based on what a reasonable physician in similar circumstances would do. In other words, courts will consider what a physician in the same location and with the same expertise would do if in a similar treatment facility.

In order to establish a physician's duty of care in court, your attorneys will likely call other doctors with a similar background as your doctor to testify as experts. Their testimony will help establish what the standard of care should be in your case. Once the standard has been established, the court will decide if that standard was breached and whether the breach caused your injuries.

In some cases, the hospital may also be held liable for a negligent doctor's actions based on the theory of respondeat superior or vicarious liability. Under these theories, doctors may also be held liable for the actions of their interns, assistants and others working under their supervision.

Source: FindLaw, "What Is a Doctor's Duty of Care?" accessed on Sept. 5, 2017

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