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Duty of Care

Every professional in practice owes a duty of care to people who rely on their services. Lawyers and accountants, for example, owe a duty to their clients to provide proper advice.

Doctors and medical professionals are no exception. They owe their patients a duty to exercise reasonable care and skill when giving advice or treatment. Where a failure to provide a reasonable standard of care to a patient gives rise to injury, there may be a claim for negligence.

If you successfully pursue a claim, you will be entitled to damages by way of compensation (often referred to as damages). When awarding compensation, the law does not aim to punish doctors but rather to compensate for injuries suffered and consequent financial loss incurred.

Before embarking on a claim for negligence, it is important to think about what you wish to achieve. In addition to damages, lawyers can request formal apologies from doctors or hospitals (although they cannot be made to apologise). Lawyers unfortunately do not have the power to get doctors struck off the medical register, and cannot force changes in practice. Nevertheless, pursuing a claim can be a useful tool for raising awareness with the hospital or doctor concerned and persuade the medical providers to review their processes and practices, hopefully prevent the same thing happening to someone else.