One of the duties expected of a doctor is the duty to attend diligently. A doctor who fails to observe this duty may be found guilty of medical malpractice. The duty to attend diligently may be violated in many ways. Disregarding a patient’s complaints for example, can be considered as a violation of the duty to attend diligently.
How do we know if the duty has been breached?
Again, we go back to the rule on thumb; we can tell if the duty has been breached if it if goes against the customary practice of other physicians in similar circumstances.
Let’s illustrate this using a hypothetical situation. For example, a patient was injured in an automobile accident and the patient’s leg had to undergo surgery and be put into a cast. The attending doctor fails to conduct aftercare for the leg. The usual standard of care and skill in the locality is that a doctor should supervise the casting of the leg and the doctor should conduct aftercare for the injuries. Since the doctor’s actions in this case were contrary to usual standard of care and skill in the locality, our hypothetical patient may sue for malpractice because of the breach to attend diligently.
The measure of a doctor’s actions should be against what is commonly done by other reputable doctors considering the circumstances.
For how long should a doctor attend to a patient diligently?
A doctor is required to attend to a patient diligently so long as the patient requires medical attention. A doctor who abandons or neglects a patient who is ill may be liable for medical malpractice.
One exception to this rule is if the doctor and the patient agree to terminate their relationship mutually. Another exception is when a doctor withdraws his/her services from serving a patient.
If a doctor withdraws his/her services, he/she is required to give reasonable notice to the patient. Failure to do this may equate the withdrawal as abandonment.