To many medical malpractice patients, the main point of such a case may be obtain compensation for what went wrong in one’s treatment or procedure. Indeed, monetary compensation is the common endgame for medical malpractice cases; but before receiving any money, there are certain legal elements that must be satisfied.

First, a physician must owe a duty to a patient. 

This means that a physician (or a nurse, medical assistant or hospital, for that matter) must have an established responsibility to care for a patient before his or her actions may be examined in a medical malpractice case. Generally, a legal duty is established when a patient is assigned to a particular doctor, or the patient seeks out the doctor for advice and the doctor accepts the patient for a particular procedure or examination.

This situation is different from random situations where a doctor sees a person in distress (such as in a restaurant or an airport). In these situations, there is no legal duty for a doctor to act because no relationship has been established.

Nevertheless, once a patient-doctor relationship is established, the physician has the responsibility of using reasonable care in treating the patient. Essentially, the doctor must act with the same diligence of a physician with similar experience and training. This is usually done by following established protocols for procedures.

If a doctor deviates from them and a patient is injured or sickened, the doctor could be held liable. If you additional questions about what may qualify as medical malpractice, an experienced attorney can advise you.