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Medical malpractice and a doctor's duty of care in Virginia

When a person in West Virginia goes to a doctor, they expect that the doctor will give them sound medical advice and treatment. The same is true if a person has to go to a hospital for surgery or any other kind of care. Of course, nobody expects doctors to be perfect and to save every patient and cure them of all their problems. Sometimes, however, a doctor's missteps not only lead to the patient not getting better, but they actually make the patient worse off.

If a patient suffers injury due to some kind of doctor misdiagnosis, surgical mistake or any other kind of medical error, that person or their surviving family members can pursue a legal cause of action against the doctor and possibly other parties. But, to win this kind of a legal case, the plaintiff must first show that the doctor did not uphold its duty to the injured patient.

Doctors have much greater education and training than the ordinary person in society. Thus, West Virginia law requires that doctors diagnose and treat their patients with the same level of skill, care and diligence as would another competent doctor in the same field of practice. However, the law also accounts for the circumstances of each particular patient. For example, if a patient needs emergency open-heart surgery, the surgeon's performance is measured against what any other reasonable surgeon would have done given the context of the emergency situation.

In some cases, a medical mistake results in the patient's death. The surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the doctors, hospital and any other party responsible for the deceased person's medical care. Just like any other medical malpractice case, the surviving family would have to show that the doctors and other parties failed to satisfy their duty of care to the patient.

Anyone can make a mistake, but when a doctor does so, the mistake can cost a person their life. If the doctor's actions were not reasonable, as compared to other competent doctors working under similar circumstances, the surviving representative of the deceased patient can recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

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