Sample Research Proposal Paper on Medical Duty of Care owed to Patients by Medical Doctors

The primary focus of this research proposal is to establish the doctor’s duty of care to patients. Primarily, a physician’s duty of care should form the first essential element in any inquiry that aims to determine whether they are liable for any medical malpractice. Therefore, in any claim that may regard doctors’ duty negligence, a kind of medical malpractice, the core elements are the duty, breach of that particular duty, whether there was harm, and the violation that lead to that damage. Consequently, the duty is the first barrier that any claim must jump over. Doctors owe several patient duties, which often change by country, hospital or practice, and locality. Predominantly, the law obliges that a doctor exercises a substantial diligence and care in the practice of such professional skill and knowledge. In addition, adoctore should use the finest judgment in the execution of this competence and knowledge. Therefore, this infers that some form of medical malpractice claim may come up when there is lack of ability or knowledge, a letdown to carry out substantial care, and failure to execute one’s best judgement (Studdert et al., 2004). Also, a doctor’s duty to conduct significant or even ordinary care, diligence, and skill is needed irrespective of the occurrence or not of reimbursement and thus relates even when the services are offered gratuitously (Studdert et al., 2004). This proposal aims to be doctrinal and comparative in its analysis process. In order to come up with a concrete discussion, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan shall be used in the comparative analysis to show how medical doctors owe a duty to patients based on laws found in these countries.


First, a doctor owes the duty of care to every patient before his or her capability in carry out that kind of responsibility can be adjudged. For example, in the Jordanian jurisprudence, an individual possesses no affirmative role to help the injured persons in the absence of the distinct relations with the (e.g. attorney-client, doctor-patient, guardian-ward, etc.). Therefore, for one to prove that a physician owes a medical duty of care to the patient, the victim should be capable of depicting that the doctor-patient relations actually occurred at the period the purported medical malpractice happened. In both Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the relations a patient and a doctor frequently occur voluntarily and regularly reached by contract. Certain things that may be applied to back up the findings that the patient-doctor relations occurred at the period of purported medical malpractice are the evidence (such as testimony and documents) demonstrating that: the patient opted to be treated by this precise doctor and the treatment by this doctor was continuing. Also, the patient agreed to the examinations for reasons of treatment regarding the health problem or the conditions suffered. It is often a better idea for any patient to get a copy of the health records after treatment that aims to show the complete course of the kind of treatment that happened. Subsequently, this shall serve as an evident of the occurrence of patient-doctor relations. In some scenario, a patient can fail to win a claim that the physician owed the duty of care especially when the doctor can boldly show that the patient-doctor relations were ended before the date which the purported medical negligence is said to have happened (Studdert et al., 2004).. For many years, doctors, as well as healthcare providers, have argued that the issue of medical malpractice claims is a driving factor in the cost of quality healthcare. Such arguments suggest that the user must approve millions of money in the manner of increased rates of insurance as well as physician fees. Again, many doctors have been forced to perform the “defensive medicine” to assist against the medical negligence claims (Bal, 2009). In this case, defensive medicine means performing of extra procedures and tests that may not be medically essential though may help in defeating the claims of medical malpractice. In reaction to the negligence claims, both countries (Saudi Arabia and Jordan) have pushed for the “tort reforms” actions. These measures have the capacity to limit the magnitude of damage that the patient can recuperate for the non-economic losses like suffering and pain, as well as punitive damages. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia have even modified the nature of locality rule to encompass both the assessment of traditional practices of local physicians as well as the evaluation of nationwide medical standards. Mostly, doctors are summoned to testify in the form of expert witnesses by both parties in the medical negligence trails teams since the jury may not be familiar with some convolutions of the medicine. The standards created by some special medical organizations such as Saudi Commission for Health Specialties are typically applied by these expert witnesses to highlight the purported medical malpractice actions of doctors who perform in that particular specialty. Hence, nonconformance to these specific sets of standards is enough evidence of misconduct, while conformance backs the findings of good care. In broader terms, this study aims to attain some vital information that enables better understanding of the kinds of medical duty that physicians owe to the individual patients. The research topic is not widely known to many people thus in conducting this study; it shall contribute to providing critical information that may remain unclear to many individuals.

Key research questions

The concept of doctor’s responsibility to medical care has received much attention in recent years due to the number of cases that surface in the limelight regarding medical malpractice. In both Saudi Arabia and Jordan, many people are well aware of their health right and any form of professional negligence from health care providers may lead to legal actions by the patients. Doctor’s medical duty of care to the patients is something of great concern in both nations and thus cannot just be ignored. An individual who might have suffered some form of injuries from medical care may be best placed to claim damages especially when the medical provider was slack. Therefore, assessing the facts in the medical negligence claims needs necessary expertise, and as a result, such kinds of claim tend not to be obvious. To establish whether a doctor was engaged in any form of medical malpractice in their particular duty, it is essential to seek legal professional for the review of such claims. To complete this study, key research questions that shall guide the project include;

  • What medical duty of care does a doctor’s owe to a patient?
  • When do doctor-patient relations begin?
  • When does medical malpractice occur within physicians?
Literature Review

According to Ruderman et al., (2006), doctors are professional, and thus they owe the duty of care to the patients who seek their services. This feature is hardly a matter regarding negligence litigation especially when the patient is not able to prove that some form of negligent took place. Once a doctor reaches an agreement to treat patients, then the doctor has the professional mandate to give a competent health care (Bal, 2009). More significantly, the complainant must be able to show certain actual as well as the compensable injury that has been caused by the purported medical malpractice. The proof of damage may encompass the physical consequences of the performed treatment by the doctor, though it may also entail the emotional aspects. The extent of compensation at the matter generally gets extremely contested litigation. In addition, causation can also meet a highly embattled litigation since the doctor may purport the injuries a patient have maybe caused by some physical factors that are not related to the claimed medical malpractice (Blendon et al., 2002). Many studies have also looked at the rules that mainly govern the regular evaluation of care. The concept of respectable minority rules especially in assessing the conduct of a doctor in not present in Jordan. The principle states that the physician is never slack just by choosing to trail one of the many acknowledged courses of treatment (Havighurst, 2000). Nonetheless, some studies have also pointed on the error of judgment rule to help such cases (Studdert et al., 2004). The concept frees a doctor from certain damages if some kinds of medical malpractice are grounded in the doctor’s error in the verdict in selecting among the diverse ways of treatment or even in the diagnosis of a certain condition (Moulton et al., 2010).A closer look at the genesis of medical negligent reveals that the concept started several years ago and rapidly increased in the early 1960s. Nonetheless, many tort lawyers have been able to cut their old conspiracy of calm that disallowed doctors from appearing on the trials of the colleagues or even acting as expert witnesses in cases of medical malpractice (Moore et al., 2000).


This section describes the research methodology that shall be useful to complete the project. Primarily, selecting the correct research methodology is vital to every researcher since it aids in tackling the questions and answering them rightly. Therefore, research methodology represents a way of establishing the outcome of a given problem on a precise matter or even a challenge typically known as the research problem. Also, different sources use different kinds of methods to solve the problems. Just as the name suggests, once, investigator thinks of methodology, what runs in mind is the efficient manner in which the problem can be solved. This study shall use a mixed method where both quantitative and qualitative methods shall be employed in the research. In broader terms, both primary and secondary data shall be utilized for this research because primary data provides in-depth research information while secondary data is also easy to retrieve. However, the secondary data will be collected from academic websites, books, peer-reviewed journals, magazines, and internet search. Since the study shall involve interviewing of key informants regarding the research topic, having the right population size must be emphasized. In fact, having an appropriate sampling frame for the study is essential since it vastly sways the results of the survey. A good sample frame shall strive to attain the objective of the paper since it provided the correct number of participants used in the research. For this project, a sample frame of 20 respondents has been considered to be effective. The 20 people slotted for the interviews have been decided because they shall give appropriate sample size in an attempt to reduce error in study and also to meet the study objective.  The research strategy for this study has also been clearly stated. Research strategy often encompasses survey, experiment, comparative case study, grounded theory, archival research, and action research. For this particular study, comparative case study strategy has been chosen, and this can be justified. The comparative case study strategy offers comparisons in key areas that shall bring a clear picture of the research topic. Since the study is based on a case study regarding Saudi Arabia and Jordan, a comprehensive analysis shall be done to help establish the research objective. Subsequently, a detailed analysis shall be done on the collected data and expressive information shall encompass the entire process of evaluating the data. The data obtained from the secondary sources shall be discussed and demonstrated by the use of various techniques to establish the descriptive and inferential part of the outcome. Finally, the study shall also have some aspects of ethical considerations to avoid conflict during research. Primarily, the main principles of ethical aspects are; whether some harm shall be submitted to participants, lack of informed consent, the incursion of privacy, and whether there is deception. Therefore, for this research, particularly during data collection process, any personal details about an individual such the name of the person, or even where he/she works that relates to the study shall not be revealed when informed consent was given. Further ethical considerations shall encompass data collection, protection and processing, trust, and reciprocity, conflicts, and affiliation of interests. Furthermore, the data obtained for this study is mainly for the purpose of this research and shall be processed lawfully and fairly.


Bal, B. S. (2009). An introduction to medical malpractice in the United States.Clinical orthopaedics and related research, 467(2), 339-347.

Blendon, R. J., DesRoches, C. M., Brodie, M., Benson, J. M., Rosen, A. B., Schneider, E., …&Steffenson, A. E. (2002). Views of practicing physicians and the public on medical errors.New England Journal of Medicine, 347(24), 1933-1940.

Havighurst, C. C. (2000). Vicarious liability: relocating responsibility for the quality of medical care.Am. JL & Med., 26, 7.

Moore, P. J., Adler, N. E., & Robertson, P. A. (2000).Medical malpractice: the effect of doctor-patient relations on medical patient perceptions and malpractice intentions.Western Journal of Medicine, 173(4), 244.

Moulton, B., & King, J. S. (2010).Aligning Ethics with Medical Decision‐Making: The Quest for Informed Patient Choice.The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 38(1), 85-97.

Ruderman, C., Tracy, C. S., Bensimon, C. M., Bernstein, M., Hawryluck, L., Shaul, R. Z., & Upshur, R. E. (2006).On pandemics and the duty to care: whose duty?who cares?. BMC Medical Ethics, 7(1), 5.

Studdert, D. M., Mello, M. M., & Brennan, T. A. (2004).Medical malpractice.New England Journal of Medicine, 350(3).