Duty of Care and Medical Negligence
When we visit a doctor or a medical professional, there is a standard of care that this doctor must stick to, and must uphold, when they see a patient and when they treat a patient.
While many people are aware of the existence of this standard of care that they are owed, few actually know what the duty of care entails, and when they come to make a medical negligence compensation claim, are unsure as to whether the service afforded to them by the medical professional, has fallen below the required standard.
What is a doctor’s standard of care?
If you are wondering if you have a medical negligence claim, you may be wondering 'does my doctor owe me a duty of care?', 'what duty of care does my doctor owe me?', or 'has my doctor breached their duty of care?'. MG Legal are here to help with the use of the relevant guidelines.
The General Medical Council has created a guide on what it means to be a good doctor, known as ‘good medical practice'.
This guidance states that a good doctor will always:
make the care of patients their first concern
be competent and keep their professional knowledge and skills up to date
take prompt action if they think patient safety is being compromised
establish and maintain good partnerships with their patients and colleagues
maintain trust in the profession by being open, honest and acting with integrity.
This is the premise of the overall guidance, and offers a good insight into the way in which doctors are expected to work and act. If you do not believe that a doctor has made your care a priority, or has not taken prompt action to symptoms that you have displayed, leading to further injury or illness for you, then you could be eligible to make a medical negligence claim against them with MG Legal.
What knowledge, skills, and actions must a doctor perform to meet this standard of care?
Under the following section of the guidelines, when a doctor sees a patient to either assess, diagnose, or treat them, then they must:
adequately assess the patient’s conditions, taking account of their history (including the symptoms and psychological, spiritual, social and cultural factors), their views and values; where necessary, examine the patient
promptly provide or arrange suitable advice, investigations or treatment where necessary (this includes referrals to specialist departments, arranging further diagnostic scans and tests, and any further investigation to achieve a diagnosis)
Provide treatment that is effective and based on the best medical evidence available
Respect the patient’s right to request a second opinion
Check that treatments and care are compatible with existing treatments the patient is receiving
Make good use of all available resources in diagnosing and treating patients
Duty of Care Medical Negligence Case Study- Darnley v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust  UKSC 50
In this case, Mr Darnley had to go all the way to the Supreme Court to get justice for the treatment he received, after being denied the same in the County Court and Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court stated that that the Defendant Hospital did indeed owe a duty of care, and that the same should not have been breached.
The facts of the case are as follows:
The Claimant, a 26-year-old-man, was assaulted, suffering an injury to the head. His friend drove him to the Accident and Emergency Department of Croydon Hospital, and the receptionist advised the Claimant that there was a 5 hour waiting time. When the Claimant left, proclaiming that he could not wait that long, he was later rushed back to the hospital, and a CT scan identified a large extradural haematoma. The Claimant had surgery, and suffered permanent brain damage.
The court of first instance’s finding was that it was neither just and reasonable to impose liability upon the defendant for harm arising as a result of the failure by the receptionist staff. The Claimant’s request for the Court of Appeal to hear the case was similarly dismissed, with the court ruling that the receptionist at A&E had not, subject to common law, breached any duty owed by the trust to an injured party.
However, the Claimant finally won his case, with the Supreme Court ruling that it was reasonably foreseeable that a person who believed that it might be four or five hours before he would be seen by a doctor might decide to leave. Lord Lloyd-Jones had no doubt that the provision of such misleading information by a receptionist was negligent.
Can I sue my doctor if they have breached their standard of care?
This page is simply an informative overview of the much more complex and comprehensive good medical practice guidelines by the General Medical Council. If you have suffered from injury or illness, and believe that it was as a result of a doctor or medical professional breaching this standard of care, and acting negligently, you could sue your doctor through a medical negligence claim.
Every case and every medical negligence claim is different, and our specialist medical negligence solicitors will assess how strong your potential claim is before accepting it. If we do accept your medical negligence claim to sue your doctor or another medical professional, it will be on a NO WIN NO FEE basis, and you will be assigned a designated solicitor with a success rate of over 99% in winning medical negligence compensation for our clients.
Simply get in touch with our team of medical negligence solicitors online, here, or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you within one working hour regarding your free, no-obligation discussion with a specialist medical negligence solicitor about your potential compensation claim.