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When has a doctor committed medical malpractice?


Oregon residents trust that their doctors are trying to help them. Most people go to doctors to prevent problems, to treat injuries and to diagnose illnesses. To do any of these things, doctors need specialized information and training that most Oregon residents just don’t have. When doctors make mistakes, however, people can be left with a huge sense of loss. People can suffer emotional and physical harm as a result of medical malpractice and, therefore, may be entitled to damages.

But, what constitutes medical malpractice? Generally, three elements must be met before a person has an actionable claim for medical malpractice.

First, a duty of care must be owed to someone. In most cases, strangers do not owe a duty of care to another person. However, a duty of care is established when the doctor-patient relationship is established. Under the law, the doctor owes the patient a duty to act as a reasonably competent doctor would act under the same circumstances. This includes treating the patient with the same diligence, skill and care that a reasonable physician would.

Second, there must be a breach of this duty. This means that the doctor must have broken the duty of care in some way.

Finally, the breach must have proximately caused the injuries to the patient. In other words, the injury would not have occurred “but for” the doctor’s actions. If the injury would have occurred no matter what the doctor did, then the doctor was not the proximate cause of the injury.

This complicated area of the law cannot be summarized completely in a blog post, therefore, this post cannot provide specific legal advice. By speaking with an experience attorney, people can determine if medical malpractice occurred in their case.

Source:, “Medical Malpractice Overview,” accessed Aug. 31, 2014