One of the most glorified, popularized and glamorized professions in the American entertainment industry is that of medical doctors. The popular television drama "ER," which was set right here in Chicago, opened up the fictional lives of many made-for-TV medical professionals to the homes of people far and wide. Through those pretend doctors' trials and tribulations regular people got glimpse at some of the stresses real medical professionals often endure.
Though they may not be celebrities, real doctors face challenging situations that force them to make critical decisions about their patients' lives. When they are making those choices they are hopefully keeping in mind the duties they promised to uphold when they entered the medical profession. Those duties are well-encapsulated in the variety of oaths.htm">oaths medical professionals are often required to take.
Possibly the most famous medical oath known to everyday people is the Hippocratic Oath. One of the foundational aspects of this ancient oath is the promise that the person taking the oath will do his or her patients no harm. Doing no harm under the oath can mean prescribing proper treatments based on the doctor's understanding of the patient's condition and avoiding situations where a patient may require the assistance of a medical specialist.
Generally speaking, this oath forces the speaker to be accountable for the possible negligence he may inflict on a patient if he fails to use his best judgment. When doctor error through negligence causes a patient to suffer an avoidable harm, that doctor may have violated his oath and duties. Failing to abide by the standards of one's duties and profession can result in a doctor facing claims of medical malpractice.
A doctor's oath encompasses the general responsibilities medical professionals must strive for to protect their patients. His duties stem from the guidelines of his licensing board and the standards established for his profession. Anyone who fears that a doctor may have caused him harm by violating his medical duties may have claims against that professional for medical malpractice.