When Is Breach Of Contract Considered Medical Malpractice?

There are several occasions where a doctor might be considered in breach of contract, either inadvertently or voluntarily. These instances are also considered examples of medical malpractice, and open both the doctor and the organization for which the doctor works to liability for any resulting damages. Here are examples of breach of contract that might be considered medical malpractice.

A business contracts lawyer can discern whether or not a doctor failed to provide a specific professional duty even when no written contract was signed. For example, doctor-patient confidentiality is a professional guarantee. Doctors who break this trust have basically violated the most stringent of professional ethical guidelines and are absolutely subject to medical malpractice lawsuits for breach of contract.

Another example of breach of contract that might be considered medical malpractice is when a doctor (and the patient) both sign off on a specific medical procedure or surgery, but the doctor or surgeon fails to perform the task. This type of breach of contract forces a patient to repeat the procedure, most often using another healthcare provider. This costs money and leaves the original provider liable.

Healthcare establishments are obligated to provide estimates regarding the costs of the procedures they perform. While these estimates vary, it can be considered breach of contract when the gap in between estimate and actual cost is excessive.

More often, medical malpractice lawsuits result when doctors make mistakes or accidentally injure a patient. These accidents are still considered breach of contract, because your healthcare providers have a duty to provide the expected standard of care. When they do not, patients have the right to sue.

Common accidents involve leaving instruments inside an open body cavity, performing the wrong operation (or the right operation on the wrong part of the body), or failing to diagnose an illness or disease that should have been easily diagnosed.

There are two types of contracts based on these examples: written and implied. Written contracts usually involve money. You sign off on specific services in exchange for the estimated payment. You acknowledge the risks regarding the procedures, if there are any. Implied contracts involve the standard of care a patient expects to receive after the first contract has been signed. Either contract — or both — can be breached.

Sometimes the patient cannot sue for breach of contract due to the scope of injury sustained during the procedure. In these cases, family members can build a case themselves, either for personal injury or wrongful death.

What should someone do when they believe a doctor is guilty of breach of contract? First and foremost, they should ask a lawyer for advice. A business contracts lawyer can provide valuable insight into what types of cases are normally won in or out of court — and they can build the lawsuit with less effort than it would take a layman. Lawyers also streamline these tasks so lawsuits don’t drag on for years. 

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