Doctors and hospitals have the same duty that all of us have: the duty of due care.
“A concept used in tort law to indicate the standard of care or the legal duty one owes to others. Negligence, in the context of due care, is the failure to use that degree of care which a person of ordinary prudence and reason [the reasonable man] would exercise under the same circumstances. See 198 S.E. 2d 526, 529. Also, the “[f]ailure to exercise due care is the failure to perform some specific duty required by law.” 153 S.E. 2d 356, 359. It “means care which is reasonably commensurate with a known danger and the seriousness of the consequences which are liable to follow its omission. . . . Due care may be either ordinary care or a high degree of care, according to the circumstances of the particular case.” 438 P. 2d 477, 482.”
The duty not to harm others through negligence. The duty to follow the rules and to be careful. The legal standard for due care is to do what a reasonable person would do in the particular situation, or to refrain from doing that which a reasonable person would not do in that situation.
Ordinary, prudent person who normally exercises due care while avoiding extremes of both audacity and caution. Used as a test of liability in cases of negligence, this standard is not applied uniformly on all persons because varying degrees of reasonableness may be expected from a minor (infant), an adult, an unskilled person, or a professional such as a doctor. See also prudent man rule.
The concept is really very simple and common sense, and it applies to all of us in our daily lives, and it applies to doctors and hospitals. They have to conduct themselves in a reasonable and careful manner.
The conduct of a doctor or hospital must follow the medical standard of care and that standard is developed by the medical profession through the medical schools and the doctors and hospitals themselves. It isn’t attorneys or the courts that define the standard of care in medicine: it is the science of medicine that sets the rules. Doctors and hospitals have a duty to follow their own rules. If the don’t , and if a patient suffers harm, then the doctor or hospital pays for the damage they cause. Just like all of us must pay for our mistakes.
Doctors and hospitals cannot be sued in Hawaii just because a patient thinks they were injured by the doctor or hospital. What the patient, or the patient’s attorney think is not even considered. Before a doctor or hospital can be sued, a doctor or hospital authority from the medical profession must testify under oath that the claim has merit and that the personal injury or death that resulted was because the doctor or hospital did something wrong or negligent and that it was below the standard of care that caused the injury or death.
I can tell you that it is almost impossible to get a doctor to testify against another doctor. For that reason, very few medical malpractice lawsuits are ever filed. In Hawaii in 2007 there were less than 50 lawsuits for medical malpractice. Unfortunately because of the powerful lobbying of the medical profession and their allies in the insurance industry, the public is not given the truth about medical malpractice.
This office has handled serious injury and death cases involving negligent doctors and hospitals since 1983. Each case is evaluated carefully and we use only the most highly qualified and respected doctors–often famous Professors at mainland medical schools–if a case is accepted. Wayne Parsons’ background in science and engineering is an important benefit that our clients have in these very difficult matters.