What is breach of duty with regards to medical malpractice?

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What is breach of duty with regards to medical malpractice?


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A medical malpractice claim can arise when a healthcare professional fails to fulfill their legal obligation to treat patients with the proper level of care. Another way of putting this is to say that a health care professional can be held liable for medical negligence if, in treating the patient, he or she fails to live up to their legal duty to provide treatment that meets the appropriate medical standard of care under the circumstances.

This is the “breach” to which you’re referring. It is very similar to the “breach” of the “duty of care” that determines liability in a standard personal injury case, but in medical malpractice cases the concepts of “breach” and “duty” are tailored to the medical treatment setting.

Most medical malpractice cases turn on whether or not the plaintiff can adequately establish a few key legal elements. These typically include:

1) existence of a doctor-patient relationship

2) establishment of the proper medical standard of care

3) proof that the defendant failed to meet ("breached") the standard of care in treating the patient, and

4) evidence that the patient was actually harmed by the doctor's breach.

Keep in mind that if you bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, you and your attorney will most likely rely on expert medical witness testimony to help prove these elements. In fact, many states require the testimony of an expert in medical malpractice cases.

by: , J.D.