Physician Malpractice: A Doctor’s Duty of Care in Cleveland June 30, 2012.

When you or someone you love is under the care of a physician, that doctor has a duty to provide reasonable care. "Reasonable" refers to care that another doctor would provide under similar circumstances. If you have questions about medical treatment or neglect, attorney Chris Mellino invites you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a claim in Ohio.

What Does Duty of Care Mean in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Doctors are not required by law to accept a patient, regardless of his or her condition. The initial establishment of a patient-doctor relationship is voluntary and mutually agreed upon. After that, the patient may end the relationship, but the doctor is obligated to fulfill the duty of care.

If a patient complains of chest pain, it would be reasonable to expect that the doctor would first rule out a heart attack. He or she should run appropriate tests rather than assume the patient pulled a chest muscle. If a doctor neglects to run those tests, and the patient suffers a heart attack, stroke, or death, that doctor may be held liable in a medical malpractice claim.

Is Patient Abandonment Considered Malpractice in Ohio?

One violation of a doctor’s duty of care is known as patient abandonment. This is when a doctor decides not to provide care or treatment.

If the doctor no longer believes he or she can be of service to the patient, that physician has an obligation to let the patient know. He or she must give the patient adequate time to find another doctor.

If a patient is no longer able to afford care, the doctor may still be held liable for patient abandonment. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer in Cleveland for specific questions about your potential claim.

How an Emergency Situation Affects a Doctor’s Duty of Care

If a patient visits an emergency room for care, although the doctor who treats him or her may not be the patient’s regular doctor, a duty of care is still expected.

Once the emergency room doctor decides to provide care, such as performing a diagnostic test or surgery, a relationship is automatically established. The ER doctor must continue treatment using reasonable care. If not, he or she could also be held responsible in a medical malpractice claim.