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Posted on 10th November 2017

Duties And Responsibilities Of A Medical Professional

Any healthcare provider has a duty of care towards his or her patients and in previous years doctors, nurses and consultants each swore an oath called the Hippocratic Oath. The Hippocratic Oath was created by the Greek Physician Hippocrates and it dates back to the third and fifth century BC.

Although its original content is very old, the principals of the Oath are still of significance today.

The GMC (General Medical Council) outline the duties of a doctor registered with them as:

          • Make the care of your patient your first concern.
          • Provide a good standard of practice and care.
            • Keep your professional knowledge and skills up to date.
            • Recognise and work within the limits of your competence. 
          • Take prompt action if you think that patient safety, dignity or comfort is being compromised.
          • Protect and promote the health of patients and the public.
          • Treat patients as individuals and respect their dignity.
            • Treat patients politely and considerately. 
            • Respect patients' right to confidentiality.
          • Work in partnership with patients.
            • Listen to, and respond to, their concerns and preferences.
            • Give patients the information they want or need in a way they can understand. 
            • Respect patients' right to reach decisions with you about their treatment and care. 
            • Support patients in caring for themselves to improve and maintain their health.
          • Work with colleagues in the ways that best serve patients' interests.
  • Be honest and open and act with integrity.
  • Never discriminate unfairly against patients or colleagues.
  • Never abuse your patients' trust in you or the public's trust in the profession.

You are personally accountable for your professional practice and must always be prepared to justify your decisions and actions.

To take this a little further, a medical duty of care exists whether the person involved is a General Practitioner, Nurse, Consultant, Dentist or care home worker. In fact anywhere that a person receives a diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition, the person diagnosing or providing treatment has a medical duty of care.

Under English Tort Law, a breach of duty of care is one of the initial steps needed in order to prove negligence has occurred and bring a claim for compensation.

In terms of medical negligence, it means that harm has come to a patient because a healthcare professional didn’t adequately follow the code of conduct, procedure or guidelines that they should have.

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