Are Doctor-Patient Relationships Important in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

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If you believe that your doctor was negligent and caused an injury or health complication, you may wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. To prove that medical malpractice occurred, you must show that a doctor-patient relationship existed, the doctor was negligent, his or her negligence caused the injury, and the injury led to specific damages. This is not always easy to do, since establishing the existence of a doctor-patient relationship can be complicated. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer can assist you with a malpractice lawsuit and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

For example, a 54-year-old patient from Minnesota went to her local health clinic complaining of abdominal pain, fever, chills, and other symptoms. After being examined by a nurse practitioner, tests revealed that the patient had high levels of white blood cells, as well as other abnormalities. Based on test results, the nurse believed that the patient had an infection and should be hospitalized. However, because the health system that ran the clinic did not have a hospital nearby, the nurse contacted another health system and spoke to the hospitalist on call.

Patient Dies After Being Sent Home

The nurse shared the abnormal test results with the hospitalist, but when the two clinicians were asked to recall the details of the conversation, there was a disagreement about what was said. The nurse claimed that she shared all the abnormal test results with the hospitalist and recommended that the patient be hospitalized. However, the hospitalist said that the nurse shared only some of the results.

They agreed that one of the abnormal test results was due to diabetes, but the hospitalist did not think the patient needed to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, after being sent home, she died of sepsis caused by an untreated infection that could have been prevented if she had been admitted to the hospital. The patient’s son filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nurse, her supervisor, the clinic, and the hospitalist. The clinic, the nurse, and her supervisor settled out of court. However, the hospitalist’s legal team argued that there was no duty of care because the deceased woman was not his patient.

The district court agreed and dismissed the case. The son appealed, but the court of appeals affirmed the lower court decision. He appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, who reversed the lower court’s decision, saying that a physician owed a duty of care to a third party if the physician was acting in a professional capacity and if it was likely that the third party would rely on and suffer harm if there was a breach in the standard of care.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Patients in Medical Malpractice Cases

If your health was compromised because of medical negligence, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will establish that there was a doctor-patient relationship and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.