As a physician or other licensed healthcare professional, you are expected to uphold the highest levels of care for your patients. If you fail to provide this care, you put your patients at risk and may also lead to regulatory action, including the potential loss of your medical license. No one is perfect, of course, but medical mistakes can be harmful or even fatal to people receiving treatment from you. If a patient or their family believes that you have caused harm due to preventable errors, they could file a complaint and possibly even take you to court on the grounds of breach of duty of care. Let's discuss this issue in a bit more detail and talk about how it could possibly put your professional license at risk.
What Is Breach of Duty of Care?
The term "duty of care" is a term frequently used in personal injury claims to prove liability for an accident. If someone has a "reasonable duty of care" to protect someone else, and they fail to provide that duty of care, they can be held financially responsible for any losses that result.
In the medical profession, "breach of duty of care" is equivalent to medical negligence or malpractice. It occurs when a healthcare provider does not provide the proper treatment for a patient or fails to meet the accepted standards of care for a particular diagnosis. If their negligence results in injury, disability, or death to a patient, they can be sued for medical malpractice and held liable for damages.
Examples of breach of duty of care may include, but are not limited to:
- Prescribing the wrong medication and/or the wrong dose of medication
- Misdiagnosis of a condition that should have been easy to diagnose
- Failing to order the necessary tests or treatments
- Failing to refer a patient for specialist care when it is indicated
- Life-threatening errors made during surgical procedures
Can Breach of Duty of Care Put Your License in Jeopardy?
Medical malpractice is a civil action and is not related to complaints against your license--and physicians carry malpractice insurance precisely to protect themselves against malpractice suits. Thus, a lawsuit based on a breach of duty of care does not automatically mean your license to practice will be endangered. However, you can lose your license to practice over allegations of gross incompetence and patient negligence, especially if someone files a complaint in that regard. If the allegations made against you in a medical malpractice suit are particularly egregious--and/or if your licensing board notices a pattern of complaints alleging breach of duty of care--they may be compelled to open up an investigation separate from any civil lawsuits to determine whether your behavior has violated the public trust. If their investigation uncovers enough evidence to support such a belief, they may suspend or revoke your license.
Protecting Yourself Against Breach of Duty of Care Complaints
Malpractice lawsuits aside, the fact is that any member of the public can file a complaint against you with your licensing board, alleging that you breached your duty of care. If such allegations are swirling around you, it's unwise to presume that the licensing board might not consider taking action against your license. Hiring an experienced license defense attorney at the first sign of trouble could very well save your career. If you're a licensed medical professional facing allegations of misconduct, attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Nationwide Professional License Defense Team are here to help. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today.
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