Establishing a Duty of Medical Care

To bring a medical malpractice claim, you must show that you or your loved one had a physician-patient relationship with the offending physician or medical facility.  This relationship is generally based on a voluntary agreement between the patient and physician or facility, under which the physician or facility undertakes to provide care for the patient.

A physician-patient relationship may also arise when family members retain a physician to provide care for an unconscious or incompetent person, or where a hospital receiving certain federal funds is required to provide care for certain indigent patients, or where an emergency department is required to provide care for persons with life-threatening conditions.  Questions about the existence of a duty of care often arise in connection with the services of consulting physicians who has not provided direct care.

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