In simplified terms, medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider causes a mistake that ultimately hurts the patient, either by causing a new injury or by allowing a preexisting condition to worsen. Unfortunately, simplified terms do not really cut it when it comes to figuring out if a medical malpractice claim has the legal merit needed to advance. To pursue a medical malpractice claim, you will have to be concerned with some of the fine details of both what happened to hurt you and the laws that surround it. Specifically, we will be focused on the challenges of a “duty of care” and a “breach” of that duty.
What Is the Duty of Care Owed to Patients?
Medical professionals all owe a duty of care to their patients. This duty of care is extensive, and it can vary between one medical professional and another due to a handful of different factors.
A medical professional’s duty of care owed to you can depend on:
- The relationship that they shared with you. If you were their official patient, then they would owe you a higher duty of care than if you were someone who was rushed to them in an emergency.
- The type of procedure you were undergoing and whether or not it was known to be experimental or risky before you accepted it for your care.
- State and federal laws that describe what a medical provider must do to treat certain patients. Such laws tend to make it more difficult to sue a medical professional or institute for neglect.
- Industry regulations specific to the defendant’s type of practice that further define how care must be given or not.
What Is a Breach of Duty of Care?
Once the duty of care owed to you by your medical provider is understood, a medical malpractice attorney can help you determine if that duty was breached. Furthermore, they can look into if that breach of duty was significant enough to justify a lawsuit.
Breach of duty of care in medical malpractice cases tend to happen due to:
- Acting unreasonably: Typically, a breach of duty of care occurs when someone acts differently than what a reasonable person would have done if they were in the same situation. For example, if a doctor decides to give you a prescription for medicine that is known to unsafely interact with other medicines you are already taking, then it could be argued that they did not act reasonably because another doctor probably would not have prescribed you that medicine.
- Conducting unapproved treatments: Another serious form of medical malpractice can occur when a medical provider conducts a treatment that has not been approved or peer-reviewed by the medical community. Even if the treatment seems like it should be relatively safe, it is often unacceptable to go through with that treatment until the procedure can be peer-reviewed or approved.
- No informed consent: Lastly, a breach of duty can automatically occur if a medical provider does not allow their patient to give informed consent for a procedure but reasonably should have. Ensuring that a patient understands what sort of treatments will be used to take care of them is an important step in caring for them, and it helps protect the medical provider from negligence claims later.
If you think that a medical provider breached the duty of care that they owed you, then you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney right away. Medical malpractice cases are infamous in legal circles for their complexity, so it is not recommended that you attempt to manage such a case on your own. Doing so could give an immediate advantage to the defense.
Medical malpractice claimants in Texas can come to Maloney Law Group, P.L.L.C. for legal counsel and representation. Contact our firm now for more information.