Case Study: Negligence Claim in Failure to Administer Blood
The negligence claim requires the confirmation of four different characteristics. For the negligence claim to be considered, it has to be proven that the physician had a duty of care to the patient with regards to the claim involved. Secondly, the physicians must have breached the duty of care they had to the patient. The breach of duty of care should have resulted directly in the harm caused to the patient; in this case death and the doctor should have been capable of foreseeing the harm that was caused (Willes & Willes, 2012). From the case description, a death caused by failure to administer blood to the patient could bring about the consideration of a negligence case against the doctor. In his position as the patient’s doctor, the physician had a duty of care towards the patient. They were in physical and medical proximity to the patient and therefore had the responsibility of preventing the patient’s death through administration of blood. As such, the first element of negligence is satisfied.
Failure by the doctor to administer blood when it was necessary to do so portrays a breach of the duty of care owed to the patient hence the second element of negligence is satisfied. If the death is confirmed to have been actually caused by failure to administer the blood, the third element of negligence will have been satisfied as well as the fourth since the doctor should have observed that failure to administer blood could result in death. In case all these conditions have been met, the doctor could be held liable for medical malpractice, particularly under willful negligence that is not corrected within the required time duration. This carries a minimum of $ 50,000 (AMA, 2017).
In the described case, the negligence claim has the highest probability of success when failure to administer blood is used as the claim basis. However, the doctor could use the defense of contributory negligence in that they had informed the patient that she needed a blood transfusion and the patient refused. The physician is not allowed to force or coerce patients into treatment modes and could not have known the patient was under the influence of drugs at the time of refusal. As such, it is not entirely their fault that the patient did not receive the blood. In such a case, no compensations are awarded to the patient.
AMA (2017). HIPAA violations and enforcement. Retrieved from https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/hipaa-violations-enforcement
Willes, J.A. and Willes, J.H. (2012). Contemporary Canadian business law: Principles and cases 10th Ed. McGraw Hill Publications. Print.