HU 2100 - A patient presented to a local emergency room
Scenario (based on a real Illinois case): A patient presented to a local emergency room and was examined by a plastic surgeon. A review of an X-ray taken of the patient's knee revealed a possible malignant neoplasm. Consequently, the plastic surgeon referred the patient to an orthopedist for further review, but did not advise the patient as to the purpose or nature of the referral. After the patient did not keep any of the three appointments he scheduled with the orthopedist, the orthopedist refused to reschedule him any further. Ultimately, the patient died of cancer due to this condition and his estate sued both physicians for negligence.
- Was a doctor-patient relationship created between the patient and the orthopedist?
- Remember that, to state a negligence claim, we must have all four elements of the tort of negligence: 1. Duty, 2. Breach of duty, 3. Causation, AND 4. Damages. In this case, was there a sufficient doctor-patient relationship to duty of care on the part of the orthopedist?
- What else could the orthopedist have done to protect himself from any legal liability to a patient he had never actually seen or treated?
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