Our Blogs

What is a Medical Doctor’s Duty of Care?

Written by Berkowitz

Doctor with patient

Compassionate Attorneys Serving Victims of Negligent Medical Care throughout Connecticut

State laws dictate the viability of a malpractice case. There are statutes that:

  • Prevent lawsuits from being filed late,
  • Ensure that expert witnesses must be qualified by the courts, and
  • State that liability must be established to have a valid claim against a physician.

The most important aspect of a medical malpractice claim, however, is establishing the doctor’s duty of care. Without this, there is no medical malpractice claim. If there is not duty of care, the physician’s negligence did not affect the patient, because the physician did not owe him or her a duty to act appropriately in the first place.

While this sounds simple enough, establishing one’s duty of care and then proving that a doctor violated it is much more complicated. This is why patients are encouraged to speak to a medical malpractice attorney.

When a Physician Owes a Duty of Care

Physicians owes a duty of care to their patients. There must be a special relationship between the physician and the patient to have a duty of care owed to him or her. The physician must be treating the patient, not consulting a physician who is treating the patient, for example.

A physician who is casually asked a question in a restaurant or a physician answering questions online is not considered a treating physician, because the patient is not paying for services, nor is an insurer being billed.

Once the relationship is established between doctor and patient, the physician then owes that patient a duty of care. This duty requires that the physician treat the patient using the appropriate level of skill, care, and attention. The physician is expected to treat with the knowledge and skills that other professionals in the same type of medical practice would also provide.

When a physician fails to provide the accepted standard of care, then he or she is considered negligent and may be liable in a malpractice case.

Physicians and Vicarious Liability

One area that is not as commonly understood is that of vicarious liability. This applies to the physician’s duty of care and associated parties. For example, a nurse working for the physician commits a critical error. However, the physician oversees the nurse’s treatments. Through vicarious liability, the physician (who is the employer of the nurse) is now responsible for the injuries that the nurse has caused.

The same goes for hospitals and clinics that employ the physician. If that physician is negligent, the hospital or clinic may also be responsible under vicarious liability, if the physician is an employee and not a contractor of the hospital or clinic.

Contact a Malpractice Attorney When Your Physician Fails to Provide the Standard of Care

If your physician failed to provide you with the standard care expected of his or her knowledge or skillset, contact a medical malpractice attorney in Connecticut as soon as possible.

Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.