What Is the Difference Between “Duty of Care” and “Breach of Care”?

What does a doctor actually owe you as a patient when you are under their care? This is a question raised by many who have suffered at the hands of their medical provider. There is a difference between the duty of care and breach of care when it comes to medical malpractice. Understanding what a doctor owes you while under their care and what constitutes a breach of that duty will make it easier to determine whether or not you have a medical malpractice case.

What is duty of care?

When it comes to medical malpractice cases, a doctor owes a patient a duty of care at all times. This means that the doctor must provide adequate care to patients that is similar to the care any other reasonable person would provide in a similar situation. Any medical professional who cares for a person automatically assumes the duty of care for that person. The doctor or other medical professional doesn’t have to be your official primary care physician for the duty of care to be present.

What is a breach of duty of care?

When your doctor or any other medical professional caring for you fails to provide you with a duty of care, it is considered a breach of that duty. The duty of care can also be broken when the doctor or other medical professional fails to act appropriately, and it leads to a negative impact on your health.

Other elements of a case

In order to move forward with a medical malpractice case after one can show a breach of the duty of care, there must be two other elements present in your situation: the cause of the injury and damages. You must be able to prove that the injury you suffered was due to a direct correlation to the breach of duty of care. The bottom line here is that if the doctor’s breach of his duty of care was a cause of an injury that you suffered. In reference to damages, you must have suffered some type of harm from the breach of duty of care. This can include monetary losses due to your inability to work, extra medical expenses to treat your injury and more.

Proving a malpractice case

Malpractice cases are not always cut and dry. Aside from keeping all of your medical records, communications, and other evidence, you might require the help of an expert witness. Whether or not you think an expert can help your case you should always opt for one anyway. It adds more substance to your claim, especially when he or she has a track record of providing solid care to their own patients.

Should the court rule in your favor, you can receive compensation for pain and suffering, your medical expenses, emotional distress, and loss of income. In some circumstances, the judge might assess punitive damages on the defendant. These are strictly to punish the medical professional for their actions in the hope that it will deter them from making the same mistake again.

Please contact Paulson & Nace, PLLC through this contact form or by calling 202-463-1999.

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