Medicine & the Law - LawCall

If you’ve been injured during a hospital stay or while having a medical procedure performed, what is your legal remedy? How can a doctor be held liable for your injuries?

Did you know that in the United States, no one person has the obligation or legal responsibility to assist an injured person? The only exceptions to this rule are relationships such as doctor-patient, attorney-client, and etc.

For instance, if you’re having dinner in a restaurant and you begin to choke on your steak, the doctor sitting two tables away has no legal duty to come forward and assist you. If that doctor continues eating his meal and does not come forward to help you, you do not have a legal action for malpractice against him.

Conversely, if the doctor decides to come to your table and provide medical attention that keeps you from choking to death, then all bets are off.  If something should go wrong in this instance, the doctor becomes liable for any injury that results from negligence during that assistance.

After a doctor-patient relationship is established, the doctor then owes the patient what is called a duty of care. This means that as a patient, you should be treated with the level of skill and competency expected of a reasonably competent physician under similar circumstances.

Circumstances include:

  • The area of medicine
  • The accepted practices of other physicians in the area
  • The level of equipment and facilities accepted in that area

A doctor who has been negligent may not be the only person held liable in a medical malpractice claim. The hospital who has given the doctor privileges may be responsible, as well.  However, a doctor is generally held responsible for the actions of his assistants and staff that are carrying out his orders.

If you have questions about a medical malpractice case, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney your area.

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