The physician-patient relationship is a very strong one, but there are times when even the most trusted doctors make mistakes. It is important to understand that not all medical errors are suitable for malpractice lawsuits; in fact, a large majority of these errors never see a courtroom or are filed as malpractice claims.
A doctor is sued for malpractice when they act negligently or fail to act in a way that is considered responsible within the industry. Unfortunately, doctors can make mistakes that are considered negligent under the law and, in these instances, that doctor could be held liable for any injuries or damages that they cause.
When are Doctors Sued for Malpractice?
There are instances that increase the likelihood of a malpractice lawsuit and, if you are a patient, it is important to understand the difference between an error and an act of negligence. Some common reasons for a lawsuit include:
- Poor Bedside Manner – A doctor isn’t sued because they are rude, but when they do not have people skills and lack essential communication abilities, things can get messed up that otherwise wouldn’t be. A patient may misunderstand a procedure or consent to something out of intimidation. Similarly, a doctor may poorly explain a bad outcome and ruin the patient’s trust. A patient that likes or admires their physician will rarely sue, but those that dislike will have no issue doing so.
- Failure to Set Expectations with the Patient – Not all procedures have the same outcome for one patient as they do for others. This is where a lot of confusion can occur. Patients do not know how medicine is practiced and some may feel that something went wrong when a physician will think it went as it should. When physicians do not discuss expectations and reality with a patient, things can go wrong and lead to a malpractice lawsuit.
- Lack of Informed Consent – Patients must be fully informed about any treatment, including the process and risk of side effects. If they are not informed, they may not take responsibility when something goes wrong. Ultimately, it is the physician’s duty to inform the patient; therefore, failure to do so could result in malpractice.
- Failure to Diagnose – This is one of the leading causes for malpractice suits in the United States. Sometimes, a physician will fail to diagnose properly or within a reasonable amount of time, leading to a lawsuit. This can include failing to diagnose cancer, ignoring test results, or ignoring a patient’s symptoms altogether.
Bottom line: Communication is key, and it falls on both the patient and doctor alike to make sure there is always a clear understanding about operations and medications. Patients should always clarify what occurred with a doctor and clarify what is going on, while doctors should ensure patients are fully informed. By communicating more effectively, both parties can avoid conflict.
When You Are Injured Due to Malpractice, Call an Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a physician’s negligence, contact the attorneys at Schwartzapfel® Lawyers P.C. today, and they can assist you with your personal injury claim. You can call us for a free consultation at 1-877-737-4806, or fill out an online contact form with your questions.