Is a doctor patient relationship required to assert a claim for medical malpractice?

Is a doctor patient relationship required to assert a claim for medical malpractice?

If you visit a health care professional, such as a nurse, doctor or other medical staff, and they fail to act within the requisite standard of care, and you suffer harm as a result, it may be possible to bring a claim for medical malpractice.  If successful, the party held liable/responsible for causing your harm may be required to pay damages.

A recent case raised an interesting question – must a physician patient relationship exist to bring a medical malpractice suit?

In that case, a nurse practitioner contacted a hospitalist after the patient presented to an out-patient clinic with signs of an infection.  The practitioner called the hospitalist to arrange for hospitalization, but the hospitalist denied the request.  The patient subsequently died from an unrelated infection.  The state Supreme Court found that although no doctor patient relationship existed between the patient and the hospitalist, the latter owed the patient a duty of care based on the “foreseability of harm” created by his decision.

While in most cases a doctor patient relationship must exist, this case raises an interesting point about the serious consequences of medical decisions.  If a person overseeing the direction of your care acts inappropriately and outside the standard of care, and makes a decision that causes catastrophic harm, should they be held responsible for the damages sustained?

As medical malpractice lawyers committed to improving patient safety, we are dedicated to pursuing justice on behalf of victims of all types of medical malpractice.  For more information or if you have been harmed by negligent medical care, please contact the dedicated San Diego medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick Petersoen, LLP for an immediate consultation


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