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What is my doctor's duty to me?

It can be frightening and isolating to enter a hospital or other medical facility and leave worse off than when you entered. When you suffer an injury of some kind in the course of medical care, it is normal to feel as though some betrayal occurred on the part of your doctor or some other medical care provider.

If you believe that you may have suffered from your doctor's negligence, it is important to understand exactly what your doctor's responsibility is to you. Should you choose to file a claim, understanding your doctor's professional duty can help build a strong case.

In broad terms, your doctor has a duty to give you the same level of care that any other similarly competent individual would give under the same circumstances.

Many factors may affect a doctor's duty and ability to provide care

Doctors are among the hardest working, most extensively trained professionals in any field, but they are not superhuman, and no judge or jury is going to expect them to be.

It is also important to note that doctors must have an established patient relationship with individuals before holding them to any standard of care at all. If, for instance, a doctor is at the movies and someone suffers a seizure in the theater, the doctor is not legally required to step in and provide aid. It is the doctor's choice to step in and offer services. If he or she does not choose to step in, there is no duty of care to question.

Once you have established a doctor-patient relationship, you can reasonably hold this medical professional to one's duty to provide you with competent care. That duty does not, however, mean that he or she is responsible for making you well. It does suggest that the doctor must provide a competent level of care, taking into account the circumstances.

There are a number of factors that may influence the level of care you receive, such as

  • Where the care is taking place, such as the side of the road or a hospital
  • The medical equipment and supplies available at the time
  • Their specialty or lack thereof as a doctor

If the doctor's level of competence is in question then an expert witness may evaluate the doctor on his or her professional merits.

Essentially, there are many things beyond a doctor's control that may contribute to you receiving subpar or ultimately harmful care. Before you file a claim against the doctor, you must first take these factors into account.

Build a strong case with experienced help

In a medical malpractice case, the details mean everything - and they can be very difficult to interpret without experience. If you are considering filing a medical malpractice claim against your doctor, be sure to consult with an attorney who has years of experience in the field.

A qualified attorney will be able to help you evaluate all aspects of your experience and build a strong case to help you receive the compensation you deserve, while ensuring that your rights remain protected.

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