TLF Logo
Call To Schedule A Free Consultation

Putting Our Knowledge And Experience To Work

Medical Breach of Duty

In a professional setting, every medical provider owes a duty of care to their patients, ensuring they receive competent and appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for medical professionals to breach this legal duty. When this happens, it can lead to serious consequences for the patient and their families.

At TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm, we specialize in medical malpractice law, helping those in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky seek justice when their medical provider breached the standard of care owed to them. When such laws are violated and the negligence of a medical professional causes harm, injured patients have the right to take legal action. Filing a medical malpractice claim is a way to address and compensate for the harm that the breach of your doctor’s duty caused.

If you or a loved one suffered harm due to the actions or omissions of negligent healthcare providers, our experienced Covington and Cincinnati medical malpractice attorneys at TLF are dedicated to guiding you through this complex process and advocating for your rights. Call us toll-free at (800) 698-4054 or reach out online to schedule a free consultation today.

breach of duty medical definition

What is the Definition of Duty of Care?

Duty of care is a fiduciary obligation that healthcare providers have to the people in which they treat. This duty is based on professional medical standards and is defined as care that any reasonable physician must provide in order to protect their patient from unnecessary risk of harm. 

Failure to uphold this duty of care is called a breach of duty or medical negligence. A doctor can be held liable for damages through a physician medical malpractice claim if they carelessly or irresponsibly breached their duties to provide reasonable care to a patient and caused injury.

Breach of Duty Medical Definition

In medical ethics, a doctor’s obligation to provide competent and appropriate care to his or her patients is guided by the phrase “First, do no harm.” All healthcare professionals are required to provide a certain medical standard of care or “duty of care” for their patients. When a healthcare provider fails to conduct his or her job in a rational, ethical manner or with the diligence expected of a professional in the same or similar circumstances and offers treatment that causes bodily injury or mental harm to a patient, they have breached that standard of care. The breach of such duty is a form of medical negligence and may lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit against the responsible physician.

If you or someone you know has been hurt due to the negligence of a medical professional, you may be entitled to compensation. Request a free, no-obligation appointment today for a free case evaluation and see how our Northern Kentucky and Ohio medical injury law firm can help you achieve the compensation you deserve.

Can You Sue for Breach of Duty?

Doctors are held to exceptionally high standards, and reasonably so. After all, they have the responsibility of making decisions that can seriously impact people’s lives and futures. As they enter their specific field, each doctor vows to uphold these standards within the scope of their field. 

When a breach of duty of care occurs, injured individuals can in fact sue the negligent medical professional for any resulting damages. In many cases, vicarious liability may also apply, holding employers accountable for the actions of their employees. This legal action can help victims recover both economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages, such as mental distress. In some cases, punitive damages may also apply.

Medical Breach of Duty

How To Prove Breach of Duty

Proving a breach of duty in medical malpractice suits requires establishing four legal elements. We call these the “4 D’s of Medical Negligence.” First, it must be shown that the medical practitioner owed a legal duty to provide appropriate medical care to the injured party. Next, there must be evidence that this duty was breached through medical errors or negligence. Third, a direct connection between the breach and the harm suffered by the patient must be demonstrated. Finally, the injured party must prove actual damages resulting from the breach.

It’s important to remember that a doctor does not owe a duty of care outside of their medical office or the hospital. This means that doctors are not required to behave as “good Samaritans” under law. However, once a doctor declares himself and acts as a doctor, they officially owe a duty of care to their patients.

1. Proving the Existence of a Doctor-Patient Relationship and Establishing Duty of Care

The plaintiff and their attorney must first prove that a doctor-patient relationship was established and that the doctor had a legal and professional duty owed to a patient for a medical malpractice claim to proceed. This relationship is typically an implicit contract that is voluntary and mutually agreed upon when the patient seeks the physician’s care.

Documents and testimony that can be used to support a doctor-patient relationship and an expectation of a duty of care should include the following information:

  • This doctor was chosen by the patient to treat him or her;
  • The patient agreed to and received examinations from this doctor in order to treat a health issue;
  • At the time the malpractice occurred, this doctor was still treating the patient.

An injured patient needs copies of medical records that show a specific treatment was administered under the care of the negligent physician. Otherwise, the physician could claim that the doctor-patient relationship ended before the negligence occurred.

Furthermore, to establish the duty of care in a medical malpractice case, the court must evaluate the level of competence, care, and diligence that a reasonable person, or in this case, reasonably qualified physician, would exhibit in the same or similar circumstances.

Things that must be considered for this include:

  • The physician’s medical specialty;
  • Other doctors’ typical or accepted practices in the area;
  • The state of the equipment and facilities at the time, as well as in the surrounding region.

2. Establishing Breach of Duty of Care

The next required element for a valid medical malpractice claim is proof that the physician actually breached the previously established duty of care owed to the patient. Expert witness testimony from other doctors with similar abilities, training, certification, and experience may be used in court to illustrate the degree of ability and expertise of the allegedly negligent doctor. If a doctor fails to meet the standards that are required of someone in their area, they may be held accountable for any injury that occurs as a result.

Breach of Duty Examples

A breach of duty can be either unintentional or intentional, with malicious or criminal intent. The following are some examples of medical error and breach of duty legal claims:

  • Incorrectly prescribing medication;
  • Failing to note a patient’s current prescriptions or supplements;
  • Prescribing the incorrect dose for a medication;
  • Giving the incorrect drugs to a patient;
  • Giving a patient the wrong diagnosis (misdiagnosis);
  • Delaying diagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition;
  • Misreading or ignoring lab results;
  • Ordering incorrect or inadequate tests;
  • Not ordering tests when it was clear they should have;
  • Discharging a patient from care too soon;
  • Failing to disclose the known risks of a procedure or treatment to a patient;
  • Failing to obtain informed consent;
  • Making serious surgical errors, such as performing surgery on the wrong part of the patient’s body or leaving surgical tools inside the body.

Remember, however, that a medical provider hasn’t necessarily violated their duty of care or committed malpractice if a bad medical outcome occurs. Rather, malpractice requires that there was a breach of duty that would not or should not have occurred under the care of a competent physician and this breach directly caused the patient injury.

Your experienced Ohio or Kentucky medical malpractice attorney will assist you in determining whether the medical personnel’s acts violated the duty of care that was owed to you.

3. Proving Breach of Duty Caused Harm

Following the establishment of a duty of care AND the breach of that duty of care, the next step in a medical malpractice suit is proving that such negligence on behalf of the health care professional directly caused you mental and/or physical harm. It can be difficult to do this because the injuries caused by the acts of the professional’s negligence must be distinguished from your existing health condition or injuries.

4. Proving an Injury Caused Losses

The final step after establishing that a breach of duty of medical care resulted in injury is to establish that the harm in question caused damages. This means the patient must have suffered specific and severe harm due to the improper (or lack of) medical treatment provided.

Medical malpractice can result in a variety of consequences, including:

  • Medical expenses (including both past and future medical bills related to the injury or illness)
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity (future income)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Persistent pain
  • Mental or emotional distress (loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, etc.)
  • Wrongful death damages

In addition to these, punitive damages may also be awarded in especially grievous circumstances to punish the healthcare provider and hopefully prevent the same negligence in the future.

Breach of Duty Medical Definition

Potential Challenges in Proving Breach of Duty in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Proving a breach of medical duty in medical malpractice lawsuits can be a complex and challenging process. Medical professionals often have a strong network within the medical community, which can make it difficult to establish that a standard of care was violated. 

Additionally, the intricacies of medical procedures and treatments require expert testimony to demonstrate how the medical professional’s actions deviated from accepted practices. As such, gathering sufficient evidence, including detailed medical records and reliable expert opinions, is crucial to building a strong case. 

Despite these challenges, experienced legal representation can significantly increase the chances of successfully proving a breach of duty and obtaining justice for injured patients.

How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?

In order to bring a successful medical malpractice action, state laws require the lawsuit to be filed in a timely manner. A strict time limit known as a “statute of limitations” requires an injured plaintiff to file within a specified amount of time after the medical negligence occurred. Each state has its own statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims. We’ll cover both Kentucky and Ohio’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice law below.

Statute of Limitations Kentucky

Medical malpractice claims in Kentucky have one year to be filed after an incident occurs. However, some exceptions apply. For example, there are times when medical malpractice or misconduct is not immediately apparent. It may take more than a year to discover the harm or injury that was caused. In this case, you still have one year after the date of your discovery of the injury to file. 

For a wrongful death lawsuit arising from a doctor’s negligence, claims must be submitted in court within two years of the deceased’s death.

Statute of Limitations Ohio

In Ohio, plaintiffs must also bring their medical malpractice case to the state’s civil court system within one year of the date of injury. The one-year term begins when you discover the harm or when your provider-patient connection ends, whichever comes first. 

Ohio’s Revised Code also establishes an outside four-year time limit for initiating medical malpractice cases for certain cases. The exceptions to this statute can be found under Ohio Revised Code § 2305.113.

Ohio Medical Breach of Duty Lawyers

Do You Need an Attorney for Breach of Duty Malpractice Claims?

Medical malpractice laws tend to be very complex and extremely difficult to navigate alone. These claims are rarely easy to prove and require the experience and knowledge of a seasoned medical malpractice attorney. 

When it comes to a medical malpractice case, it’s critical to seek the advice and assistance of a legal team that has plenty of experience with this type of lawsuit. By hiring a legal team that is familiar with the elements of medical negligence and how to prove a physician acted negligently, you give yourself a much better chance at winning the case and receiving maximum compensation for your injuries.

The Importance of Legal Assistance in Breach of Duty Medical Malpractice Claims

Navigating a breach of duty medical malpractice claim requires a deep understanding of both medical care standards and the legal system. These cases often hinge on detailed medical records, expert witness testimony, and proving all four elements of negligence. With this in mind, establishing the breach of duty of care the defendant owed the patient is no small feat. Without skilled legal assistance, injured patients might struggle to compile the necessary evidence and present a compelling case.

At TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm, our skilled legal professionals handle all kinds of medical malpractice cases, from birth injuries to intubation errors to anesthesia mistakes and everything in between. We have the skill, resources, and legal maneuver to help gather and interpret crucial medical records, secure credible witnesses, and effectively argue how the defendant’s actions deviated from accepted medical standards. 

By equipping yourself with an experienced attorney from our firm, you ensure that both economic and non-economic damages are accurately assessed and pursued and significantly increase your chances of achieving a fair outcome.

Kentucky Medical Breach of Duty Lawyers

Impacted By Medical Negligence? Call the Ohio and Kentucky Medical Malpractice Attorneys at TLF Right Away

The Ohio and Northern Kentucky medical malpractice attorneys here at TLF have extensive experience dealing with medical negligence claims, especially those involving the breach of duty of care. We are dedicated to helping victims across the region recover fair and just compensation for losses and damages that occurred at the hands of negligent medical professionals.

If you believe your healthcare provider breached the duty of care that was owed to you and you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Contact our medical malpractice attorneys in Ohio and Kentucky for a free case evaluation. 

You can reach our law office in Covington, KY at (859) 578-9130 or Cincinnati, Ohio at (513) 651-4130. You can also call us toll-free at (800) 698-4054 or send us a message online. We are more than prepared to help you with your case.

Practice Areas

You Pay No Fees Unless We Win!

We are happy to offer a free consultation to evaluate your case. If you hire us as your legal counsel, we will represent you on a contingency-fee basis. You will pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover financial damages.