Establishing a Duty of Medical Care

Doctors are not automatically required to treat or provide care to everyone they meet. In order for there to be a duty of a doctor or other medical professional to provide care to a patient, there must generally exist some form of voluntary agreement between the doctor and the patient. The agreement itself will establish the doctor-patient relationship, and from that point forward the doctor has a duty of care to the patient. Under certain circumstances, however, a doctor may have an obligation to provide treatment even if there is no actual voluntary agreement. In cases where a person is not conscious, a doctor-patient relationship is formed where family members of the patient retain the doctor's services. In addition, among other exceptions, hospitals accepting certain kinds of federal funds may be required to provide care to indigent patients under certain circumstances, and hospital emergency rooms may be required to provide care to anyone coming in with a life-threatening condition.


Related Content