What Constitutes Doctor Negligence?

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  • Written By: M. Lupica
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 03 February 2020
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Negligence occurs when a person breaches a duty to another and some harm results to that second person. Doctor negligence, usually referred to as “medical malpractice,” is a particular form of professional negligence whereby a doctor, in giving care, acts below the accepted standards of his or her profession in his or her geographic area. The expensive nature of such doctor negligence claims generally necessitates that medical professionals carry professional liability insurance. These costs have also led to doctors’ advocacy groups lobbying for medical malpractice reform.

A typical negligence claim will carry four elements: a duty to the victim owed by the allegedly negligent party, a breach of that duty by the allegedly negligent party, actual harm to the victim, and such harm must have been caused by the negligent party’s breach of the aforementioned duty. In the context of a doctor negligence claim, the negligence must involve the doctor administering care that falls below the accepted standards of his or her profession. The accepted level of care that similar medical professionals provide in the geographic area in which the doctor practices usually determines such standards. However, many jurisdictions have statutes that dictate standards, and violation of these statutes constitutes negligence per se — i.e., by violating the rules of the statute, the doctor’s actions automatically amount to negligence.


Medical professionals generally are required to carry professional liability insurance to protect against claims of doctor negligence. Typically, a doctor’s professional liability insurance will cover all costs of a negligence claim against the doctor. These costs may include attorney’s fees as well as any award given to a plaintiff.

The significant expense of medical professional liability insurance has led to doctors’ advocacy groups to lobby for medical malpractice reform. The goal of the medical malpractice reform movement is to influence the enactment of various legislative measures to curb potential costs of doctor negligence litigation. The central argument is that the laws are slanted too far in favor of victims of doctor negligence.

One example of a popular medical malpractice reform measure advocated for by the doctors’ advocacy groups is a cap on punitive damages. Punitive damages — damages imposed on negligent parties beyond the actual financial loss of the victim for the purpose of punishment — are typically high in doctor negligence cases, though the amount depends on the egregiousness of the negligence. Medical malpractice reform advocates argue that a limitation on such damages would go a long way in reducing the costs of medical professional liability insurance, as the potential award in a doctor negligence claim would be limited.


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Post 1

I am interested in statutes on a case from the late 70's in which the alleged victim has just found out her surgical procedure she had done then was done without consent two times and was also abandoned in her field of illness.

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