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Contributory negligence can impact a patient’s claim

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2023 | Insurance Defense |

As a medical professional, you’ll spend a lot of time advising your patients on how to take care of themselves following release from the hospital or from your care. When you’re facing a medical malpractice claim, it can be incredibly frustrating to know that you know the injury or illness is in part caused by the negligence of a patient to follow your orders. 

What kind of behaviors on the part of the patient can be considered negligent and should you still be found liable in the circumstances? 

What actions would be considered contributory negligence? 

Contributory negligence means that the patients contributed to their own harm as a result of their actions or omissions. A patient is expected to take responsibility for their own healthcare in line with the directions of their doctor or another medical professional. 

As a result, where there’s evidence of negligence, it may mean that they are not entitled to the full amount of compensation available. 

Types of contributory negligence may be: 

  • Failure to follow a doctor’s orders 
  • Missing appointments and a failure to follow up 
  • Not collecting and taking prescribed medication 
  • Carrying out activities that the patient was advised could be dangerous 

An example of contributory negligence may be where the patient is claiming that they received inadequate care following a surgery which left them with pain and injury. If during investigation it becomes apparent that the patient canceled and/or postponed a number of post-operation appointments this may be evidence that they are partly at fault. 

While evidence of contributory negligence will not absolve you of complete liability, it will show that there are other factors involved which were outside of your control. 

Facing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be a worrying time both professionally and personally. Evidence of contributory negligence can have a significant impact on the claim against you and should be investigated. 


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