“Duty of care is an obligation owed to anyone who could be injured by a person’s lack of care. It must be ‘reasonably foreseeable’ that an injury could result from the lack of care” (Townsend & Luck, 2013)
Duty of care is the one thing that all health care professionals, and to some extent first aiders, use in their everyday practices. Paramedics are thought to always owe a duty of care when they are acting or serving in a professional capacity. When a health care practitioner starts a patient-doctor relationship they have identified that a duty of care exists in their relationship. However there are also the legal aspects as well as the guidelines and risks that comes from establishing a duty of care i.e. negligence law. ( Townsend & Luck, 2013).
Duty of care is essentially a legal obligation set out to ensure that all health care professionals and first aiders perform to a set standard of care. The Law imposes this duty on medical practitioners to provide the required care and skill in diagnosing, giving advice and treating patients. In NSW all medical practitioners have a duty to provide first aid to patients even when there has been no prior contact i.e. a doctor has to provide care as he is identified as a doctor. Paramedics are said to act as their patient’s advocates, while they are treating them as a part of their duty of care. It is often seen to be owed in circumstances where harm or risk can affect others or the patient themselves.
It has been found that the Duty of care, as stated by the Paramedic Professional Competency Standards (http://www.caa.net.au/downloads/ppcs.pdf) ,should be exercised in a professional capacity when the paramedic is:
Assessing the severity of the problem & situation
Treating the patient with required skill and knowledge
Exercising initiative in the care of the patient