Obstetrics & Gynecology>>>>>Ethical and Legal Issues in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Question 3#

A physician is being sued for malpractice by the parents of a baby born with cerebral palsy.

Which of the following is not a prerequisite for finding the physician guilty of malpractice?

a. A doctor-patient relationship was established
b. The physician owed a duty to the patient
c. The physician breached a duty to the patient
d. The breach of duty caused damage to the plaintiff
e. The physician failed to give expert care to the patient

Correct Answer is E

Comment:

Negligence law governs conduct and embraces acts of both commission and omission (ie, what a person did or failed to do). In general, the law expects all persons to conduct themselves in a fashion that does not expose others to an unreasonable risk of harm. In a fiduciary relationship such as the physician-patient relationship, the physician is held to a higher standard of behavior because of the imbalance of knowledge. In general, the real gist of negligence is not carelessness or ineptitude, but rather, how unreasonable was the risk of harm to the patient caused by the physician’s action? Thus physicians are held accountable to a standard of care that asks the question, “What would the reasonable physician do under this specific set of circumstances?” The physician is not held accountable to the level of the leading experts in any given field, but rather to the prevailing standards among average practitioners. When a doctor-patient relationship is established, the defendant (doctor) owes a duty to the patient. If the defendant breaches that duty—that is, acts in a way that is inconsistent with the standard of care and that can be shown to have caused damage directly to the patient (proximate damage)—then the physician may be held liable for compensation.