Court Clarifies Duties a Doctor Owes a Patient

Generally speaking, doctors owe their patients two duties: they must treat them in accordance with the standard of care and advise them of the consequences of any proposed treatment. If a doctor breaches either duty, they may be held accountable for any harm that ensues. As discussed in a recent ruling, however, they generally cannot pursue a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against a doctor that fails to uphold either duty. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to incompetent medical care, it is wise to meet with a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer to determine your rights.

Case Background

It is alleged that the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the defendant hospital and defendant doctor on behalf of their incapacitated daughter. In their complaint, they set forth claims of medical malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, and failure to provide sufficient warning. They alleged that the defendants intentionally deceived their daughter by not informing her that the medical devices used in her treatment were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The defendants requested a judgment as a matter of law regarding the count that alleged a breach of fiduciary duty.

Duties a Doctor Owes a Patient

The court ultimately granted the defendants’ motion and dismissed the plaintiffs’ breach of fiduciary duty claim. The court explained that the defendant doctor had two legally recognized duties towards the plaintiffs’ daughter as her doctor: (1) to treat her in the same manner that a reasonably prudent doctor with his specialty would have done in similar circumstances, and (2) to inform her of the consequences of a proposed treatment.

The plaintiffs argue that the defendant doctor failed in both regards, leading to claims of medical malpractice/negligence and lack of informed consent. Additionally, the plaintiffs included a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, which essentially duplicates the allegations made in Counts I and II. The court determined that this claim adds nothing new and is based on the same facts and legal theories as the other two claims. As a result, the court dismissed the claim for breach of fiduciary duty, considering it duplicative and unnecessary.

The court also emphasized the importance of judicial economy and the dismissal of duplicative claims. It also cited a case that clarifies that a malpractice claim cannot be recharacterized as a breach of fiduciary duty claim. Therefore, the court granted the defendants’ motion and dismissed Count V of the plaintiffs’ second amended complaint.

Consult a Capable Maryland Attorney

Doctors have an obligation to provide patients with competent care and inform them of the risks of any proposed treatment, and if they do not, they may be liable for medical malpractice. If you were harmed by a negligent doctor, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney. The capable Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can examine the facts surrounding your harm and aid you in seeking the best legal result available. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.  

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