Medical Malpractice

A claim for medical malpractice generally is based upon the existence of a doctor-patient relationship. A claim rests upon showing that a doctor failed to uphold the standards of the medical profession and that the doctor’s failure caused his or her patient to suffer personal injury. Expert testimony is generally required to establish a claim for medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice claims arise in many contexts, and often involve extremely serious injuries or even death. A claim may arise, for example, from a botched medical procedure (such as surgery) or failure to diagnose a medical condition. A claim may even arise where a doctor suddenly terminates the doctor-patient relationship so as to deprive his or her patient of the opportunity to find another qualified doctor, or where a patient suffers emotional distress as a result of being misdiagnosed as having a serious medical condition.

A claim for medical malpractice generally must be brought within three years of the date on which the claim accrues.

For information about other civil claims recognized in the District of Columbia, click here. For information about how to use this guide, click here.

[Sources: Douglas C. Melcher, Tort Claims and Defenses in the District of Columbia § 11 (2014), and legal authorities cited therein.]