Many of the medical malpractice topics we discuss in our blog cover cases in which treatment by a healthcare provider does not meet the standard of care and results in an injury to the patient. However, it is also possible for a patient to suffer an injury as a result of a lack of treatment by a healthcare provider. This is known as failure to treat. If a healthcare provider’s failure to treat a patient results in an injury, this could be considered a breach in the standard of care, and could open up the potential for a medical malpractice case. Following are some examples of failure to treat.
Examples of Failure to Treat
If a health care provider discharges a patient from the hospital and the patient then suffers an injury which could have been prevented by a longer stay in the hospital, this would be considered a breach in the standard of care. It is the responsibility of the health care provider to verify prior to discharge that the patient would not be negatively effected by a discharge.
Failure to Follow-Up
If a health care provider has an obligation to follow-up on the patient after discharge in order to determine if additional care is necessary, he or she must follow through with this task. If the provider fails to do so and the patient suffers an injury as a result, it would be considered medical negligence.
Failure to Refer to a Specialist
In a similar example, a health care provider may be obliged to refer the patient to a specialist if additional care is needed in a discipline that a specialist would be able to provide. Failure to do so would be considered a breach in the standard of care.
A prognosis is the health care provider’s prediction of how he or she expects the patient’s condition to progress. This informs his or her approach to the treatment of the patient. If the prognosis is too conservative and the provider does not render enough treatment as a result, this would not meet an acceptable standard of care.