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When failure to fulfill duty of care results in medical injury

You may enjoy visiting one of the many vendor markets in Pittsburgh's Strip District. While there, if you witness someone who appears to be experiencing a medical emergency, and you also notice people asking help from a doctor who happens to be dining nearby, do you feel fairly certain that, since that person is a licensed physician, he or she is obligated to help? If you answered yes, you are likely not alone, but you are also not correct.

A physician attending a public event on personal time is under no more obligation to help someone in distress as you might be in the same situation. If the doctor offers to assist the person in medical need, however, then the doctor has established a doctor/patient relationship and therefore is obligated by a duty of care.

How to know if a duty of care exists

If you suffer medical injury and believe a doctor's negligence caused it, you would first need to prove that the doctor in question owed you a duty before you could obtain compensation for damages if you file a claim in court. Following are several points that help clarify duty of care:

  • If you undergo surgery, the doctor performing the operation owes you duty of care, which means you may have grounds for a negligence claim if the doctor fails in that duty and you suffer injury because of it.
  • No doctor is obligated to assist a person in need outside an official capacity, just as in most cases, the average passer-by is not responsible for another person's medical needs. (In situations involving motor vehicle accidents resulting in injury, police may issue a citation if a driver involved fails to stop and render aid.)
  • A duty of care may not apply outside a special skill set. For instance, a neurosurgeon can not be expected to be able to perform heart surgery.

It would be awful if you underwent surgery or sought other medical help at a Pennsylvania hospital and wound up in worse condition afterward than you were at the start. It's perfectly understandable that you'd want to seek justice if you believed the cause of your worsened condition to be medical negligence. A person well-versed in duty of care regulations would be a great source of support in such circumstances to guide you through the necessary process to address the situation in court.

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D'Amico Law Offices, L.L.C.
310 Grant Street
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Suite 825
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-906-8180
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