Is Failure to Refer Considered Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania?

Is Failure to Refer Considered Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania?

There are many different types of doctors. While some are general practitioners, there are other medical professionals who specialize in certain areas of medicine. There are many cases in which a general practitioner comes along symptoms or conditions that they are not trained or have enough knowledge to treat. When this happens, they can refer the patient to a doctor who specializes in the matter. If a doctor fails to follow the proper standard of care in referring a patient, the patient may be entitled to recover compensation. Continue reading below to learn more.

When is a Doctor Referral Necessary?

When a doctor and patient establish a relationship, the doctor must provide them with treatment until it is no longer needed or the patient ends the relationship. This requires them to provide patients with a referral to see a specialist if they are unable to treat a condition themselves. This must be done in accordance with the proper “standard of care.” This is determined by what other doctors with similar qualifications would do in the same situation. If another doctor would refer the patient, then it is required. If the standard of care is deviated from, a doctor can be held liable for the further suffering of the patient. 

How Can the Failure to Refer Harm a Patient?

Doctors who fail to refer their patient who needs further help can cause undue harm as a result. Examples of problems that can arise from the failure to refer can include the following:

  • The condition or illness worsening to the point of being irreversible 
  • A misdiagnosis of a condition or illness due to insufficient knowledge
  • A delayed or missed diagnosis caused by the failure to refer a patient 

In addition to this, the failure to refer can also cause fatalities in some cases. These situations can lead the family of the patient to recover compensation for any medical expenses, lost income, pain, and suffering they incurred as a result.

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