Piro Zinna Cifelli Paris & Genitempo, LLC Attorneys at law
973-542-2766
in the section

Do physicians owe a duty of care to non-patients?

A physician's duty of care to their patient is an essential issue in many medical malpractice cases. However, what about a duty of care to a non-patient? Are there times when a physician can be legally liable for an injury that occurs to someone they never treated?

Actually, yes -- although it isn't always clear when that happens. Here's what you should know:

When a patient threatens violence

If a patient makes an imminent, serious physical threat against another person, physicians (including psychiatrists) have a legal obligation under New Jersey's laws to try to protect that person.

They may have to notify police about a patient's intent -- even if that requires telling the police something that the patient said in confidence. If they know how to reach the individual that is being threatened (such as a patient's parent or spouse), they may also need to take steps to directly warn the patient of an impending attack.

When a doctor reasonably anticipates violence

A second requirement in the law puts a responsibility on the physician to take action to protect a non-patient when the physician can reasonably make a determination that a patient intends to carry out an act of violence.

If a patient is expressing hostility and rage toward someone specific and starts talking about revenge, a physician may need to take preventative measures to protect the identified target of the patient's rage -- even if the patient didn't make an overt threat.

While these are very limited situations, they do happen. If you believe that a doctor failed in their legal and ethical obligation to warn you or a loved one of danger, it may be time to discuss a medical malpractice claim with an attorney.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Best lawyers* | Best Law Firms | U.S. News | 2019
  • New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Attorney
  • AV | AV* Preeminent TM | Martindale-Hubbell* | Lawyer Ratings
  • Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers | Rising Stars
  • TopVerdict.com | Top 50 Jury Verdict | All Practice Area

*See methodology for inclusion at the websites listed: Best Lawyers® Best Law Firm News, Martindale-Hubbell and Super Lawyers. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Email Us For A Response

Make The Smart Choice: Contact Us Today.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Don't Take Chances Choosing A Lawyer.
Call Our Trusted Team Today: 973-542-2766.

Centrally Located

Our Essex County office is situated conveniently close to the courts of the seven northernmost counties of New Jersey.

Our Office

360 Passaic Avenue
Nutley, NJ 07110

Phone: 973-542-2766
Fax: 973-661-5157
Nutley Law Office Map