Steps to Take When Doctors “Breach Duty of Care"

Steps to Take When Doctors “Breach Duty of Care"

Steps to Take When Doctors “Breach Duty of Care"

When people are injured or ill, it's natural to turn to medical personnel and expect they will do what can be done to make things better. In most cases, that's what happens. From time to time, the outcome is not so great. Instead, what's known as medical negligence and breach of duty takes place. 


There may be grounds for taking action that results in compensation and might even prevent someone else from going through the same difficulty. If you suspect that one or more of medical professionals have been less than diligent in providing the proper care, here are some things you should know, including a breach of duty definition and what you can do in the aftermath. 


What Does Breach of Duty Mean?

The simplest breach of duty definition as it relates to medical care has to do with conduct. Simply put, if a medical professional chooses to provide less than a recognized standard of care, then a breach of duty has taken place. 


What does breach of duty mean in terms of who can be guilty? Any medical professional could provide care that's below the standard and commit a breach. The professional in question could be your primary care physician, the doctor you see at the emergency room, or a surgeon or specialist that treats you for a specific condition. The possibility of a breach of duty in nursing also exists, especially if you are in a hospital or similar type of care facility. 


In the final analysis, what does breach of duty mean? It means a failure to render medical care that's appropriate for the patient's condition. 

What is Duty of Care?

Along with asking what does breach of duty mean, you are likely to want to understand what's mean by a duty of care. As it relates to medical matters, duty of care is the observance of a standard of medical care that's relevant to the patient. In other words, the duty of care means the medical professional will follow responsible steps to ensure the patient receives the right treatment and support while seeking to recover from an ailment. 


Defining the duty of care is crucial since it sets the standard for determining if the medical professional breached his or her duties. For example, you may be in a hospital and recovering from an ailment. You have medication that must be taken at regular intervals. A breach of duty nursing could mean failing to give you the medication or not getting around to changing out an empty IV bag. That would indicate a breach of the duty of care. 

What is The Relationship Between Breach of Duty and Standard of Care?

So what is the relationship between breach of duty and standard of care? The duty to all patients is to provide adequate and efficient medical care based on the patient's current state. A breach of duty occurs when the patient does not receive the level or standard of care that is required of medical professionals. 

As long as the recognized standard of care is provided, there will not be a breach of duty. The patient receives timely treatments and is cared for in a manner that enhances the odds of being able to recover. When that standard of care is not up to standards, then the potential for breach of duty is real. 


The standard of care for physicians and other healthcare professionals is determined by current laws regulating the medical profession. It's also set by the standards drafted and observed by various medical associations. All those laws and standards are in place as a way to ensure patients receive the care that they need to get better. When not followed, the results can range from extending an illness to a permanent disability or even the loss of life. 


Defining the standard of care and the subsequent duty of care are essential when it comes to determining if a breach of care has taken place. If so, then there are likely grounds for pursuing a suit for medical negligence and breach of duty.

Examples of Breach of Duty of Care

breach of duty definition

There are many forms that a breach of duty may take. Here are a few of the more common breach of duty of care examples that you may come across:


1. Failure to review patient prescriptions before adding a new one. Interactions between medications may lead to everything from nullifying the effect of one to creating a serious medical crisis. Responsible physicians always review what patients are already taking before adding to or changing anything. 


2. Overlooking symptoms that lead to an incorrect diagnosis. Given that many ailments share symptoms, it's important to look closely at what the patient is experiencing and what the test results indicate. Failing to do so could lead to improper treatments that make the situation worse. 


3. Incorrect dosages of medication. Prescriptions that are for the wrong dosage have the potential to cause serious health issues. This is true even if the medication would be helpful in a different dose. 


4. Prescribing the wrong medication. Perhaps the prescription is not even the right medication. The impact could be that the health issue is not managed, and the patient may have a negative reaction to the medication. 


These are only a few breaches of duty of care examples that may happen. Some examples, especially incorrect actions that take place during a surgical procedure, can trigger long-lasting repercussions that the patient has no choice but to live with. 


Understanding The Nature of Medical Malpractice

What does medical malpractice mean? It refers to actions taken by medical professionals that are not in compliance with recognized codes of conduct and performance. In particular, theory relates to actions that ultimately have an adverse effect on the patient, up to and including causing death. 


Medical practice may involve making a wrong decision or administering the incorrect treatment. It can also involve acts of omission, such as failing to diagnose and treat a condition. Intent may also play a role, especially if the action taken by the physician was the result of failing to take the proper steps, read test results responsibly, or otherwise ignore data that would impact the course of treatment chosen. 

Proving Medical Negligence

medical negligence and breach of duty

Along with knowing what does medical malpractice mean, there's also the matter of proving that medical negligence and breach of duty took place. The point is to determine whether there were any sound grounds for the selection of treatment or if the choices were made due to a failure to properly carry out medical duties. 


In order to prove medical negligence took place, it's essential to address four key elements. First, what was the professional duty that was owed to the patient? Next, was there a breach of that duty, and in what form? Third, what sort of injury did the patient experience as a result of the action or the lack of action? Last, what are the resulting damages involved?


In order to pursue this type of case, it takes more than assuming there is more than the medical professional could have done. There must be solid grounds for determining if negligence took place. That may require more expertise than you can manage alone. 

When Do You Need a Malpractice Attorney?

The key to whether you want to pursue a suit is what sort of damage resulted from the actions of the medical professional. It's necessary to confirm that you did suffer in some manner because of what was done in the course of your care. While you may not be sure how to go about proving this breach of care, rest assured that a malpractice attorney will know what to do. 


After providing an account of what you experienced, along with any supporting documentation or witnesses who may have seen one or more examples of negligence, the attorney will determine if there appear to be grounds for pursuing the matter. If so, that will also mean obtaining your permission to seek additional records and identify any other data that may be relevant to the case. 


In the best-case scenario, the responsible party will wish to avoid court altogether. If so, there's a chance that the party will seek to settle the case. Any requests to meet for discussions of a settlement should be referred to your legal counsel. Never discuss any terms or other conditions with the other party. All interactions should be through your attorney. 

Contact New York Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

If you suspect that the medical care that you received was not appropriate for your ailment or that it was not carried out within what's defined as an acceptable standard of care, it's time to speak with a malpractice attorney. This is especially true if the treatment options result in additional medical problems. 


After reviewing the evidence, the attorney can determine if what you experienced does constitute a breach of duty of care, what sort of action can be taken, and provide some idea of what you can expect. From there, it will be easier to determine if this is a matter you wish to pursue. 


Call today and schedule a consultation to discuss the possible breach of care. What you learn will help you decide what to do next. 

Categories: All, Medical Malpractice, Sue Doctors, Your Rights

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