As a medical provider, you want to do what’s best for your patients. The last thing you want is to harm someone or to see people under your care go through complications. You took an oath to heal and protect.
Unfortunately, some patients don’t understand that there are certain things that are out of your control. Allergies, infections and other complications may not be a result of errors but, instead, the patient’s own body and its reaction to medications or other medical treatments. If a patient is accusing you of medical malpractice, it would be helpful for him or her to review these definitions. As much as you want to see every patient happy, there is simply no way that every case can go as planned, even without mistakes.
1. Medical malpractice
Medical malpractice is when an injury or death results from negligence of some kind. Blatant errors, for instance, like operating on the wrong body part, would constitute malpractice. Other malpractice examples include lying to patients to obtain consent to operate or provide treatment, prescribing the wrong medication or misdiagnosing a patient.
Sometimes, patients misunderstand malpractice and believe a complication is a sign of malpractice. There is no way to know how each person is going to react to a medical procedure, so there’s no way to prevent every complication. A patient who suffers from an infection after surgery may not have been treated poorly but just be susceptible. Patients who take medications but react poorly may simply not be a good candidate for that particular drug’s use.
Patients need to be reasonable
Patients have to be reasonable. Doctors follow protocols and have a solid education to back their actions. If you ordered tests that came back without signs of disease or illness, you would have little way to know that the individual would develop one in the coming months. The same is true if the patient never had allergies in the past but did not take a prescribed medication before. You’d be hard-pressed to know that the individual would have a reaction from the drug.
It is hurtful to know a patient is accusing you of medical malpractice, but, as a provider, it’s bound to happen. Misunderstandings are often resolvable, though, without having to go to court. It’s a good idea to review your options before you speak with the patient, so you know where you stand by law.