Medical errors may lead to serious long-term health consequences for patients. In certain cases, it may even result in death.
In fact, in 2018, only cancer and heart disease led to more deaths than mistakes by healthcare providers. One action, or rather, lack of action, that may harm individuals is the failure to refer them to specialists.
Failure to refer may count as neglect
When individuals feel sick, their first step is generally to contact their primary healthcare provider. In many cases, the provider is able to diagnose and treat the problem. However, there are cases where doctors do not have the necessary specialization to recognize or treat a condition. If there is a symptom, such as aching joints or skin lesions, that fall outside of general medical care, they refer patients to a specialist, such as a rheumatologist or a dermatologist.
Failing to do so may count as neglect, and thus, medical malpractice. Doctors owe patients a duty of care, or an unsaid obligation to provide a certain level of care. A failure to refer them to the appropriate healthcare professional that results in injury may breach this duty of care.
There is more than one option for recourse
Individuals who suspect that their medical providers’ failure to refer them to another doctor is the reason behind their sustaining harm may file a lawsuit. They may also speak to their primary care provider first to try and resolve the issue. Alternatively, they may report the doctor or other healthcare professional to the state licensing board. There is a statute of limitations to file a medical malpractice claim.
Not referring an individual to a specialist may lead to their condition worsening, possibly to a point beyond recovery. As a result, such a failure may be medical malpractice.