The duty of a doctor or other medical professional to provide care to a patient is usually established by voluntary agreement between the doctor and the patient. By this agreement, the doctor and patient form a doctor-patient relationship. Once a doctor-patient relationship is established, the doctor has a duty of care to the patient. However, even if there is no actual agreement between the doctor and the patient, the law assumes that there is an agreement under certain circumstances. For example, if family members seek treatment for an unconscious patient, the law assumes that there is an agreement between the doctor and the patient, even if the patient is unable to make any agreement. A medical malpractice attorney can use this contract in any lawsuits for the victim.
Because the doctor-patient relationship is usually formed by an agreement between doctor and patient, doctors usually do not have an obligation to provide treatment. Therefore, if a doctor sees an accident on the way home from the hospital, the doctor does not usually have an obligation to stop and give assistance. Under certain circumstances, however, a doctor may have an obligation to provide treatment even if there is no actual voluntary agreement. For example, hospitals accepting certain kinds of federal funds may be required to provide care to indigent patients under some circumstances. Doctors who work in emergency rooms may be required to provide care to anyone coming into the emergency room with a life-threatening condition.
Doctors responding to emergency situations and providing care for accident victims may be protected from certain lawsuits by “Good Samaritan” laws. These laws, enacted in most jurisdictions, usually apply in emergency situations occurring outside a hospital or other medical facility. Generally, these laws apply in situations where the doctor did not have a duty to the victim, but volunteered in good faith to help because of an emergency, and did not request a fee. If the doctor fits within the Good Samaritan law, the doctor usually cannot be sued for mere negligence, but only for gross negligence. A medical malpractice attorney in Tampa can help you if you have been the victim of gross negligence, as they know the laws specific to Tampa and the state of Florida.