There are various different types of doctors in the medical field. While some receive an education and trailing to be a general practitioner, there are others who specialize in certain areas of medicine. If a general practitioner comes across a matter with their patient that they do not have enough knowledge in, they can refer their patient to a doctor who specializes in the matter. All doctors have the responsibility to do so in accordance with the proper standard of care. Failure to do so can cause the patient to suffer further and it is considered medical malpractice. When this happens, the patient may be entitled to compensation. Continue reading below to learn more.
When is a Doctor Referral Necessary?
When a patient and doctor establish a relationship, the doctor is required to provide the patient with treatment. This must be done until it is no longer needed or the patient ends their relationship. It is because of this that doctors who discover a symptom or condition they are unable to treat must give the patient a referral to see a specialist who can treat them.
The “standard of care” that is required of doctors when dealing with referrals is determined by what other doctors with similar qualifications would do in that situation. If another doctor would have referred the patient elsewhere, they are required to do so as well. If they deviate from the standard of care instead, a doctor can be held liable for any suffering the patient experienced as a result.
How Can the Failure to Refer Harm a Patient?
When a doctor fails to refer a patient who needs help, it can cause them further harm. Some results of a 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
Not only can the failure to refer a patient cause further suffering, it can also result in fatalities in some cases. These situations can lead the patient or their family to recover compensation for any medical expenses, lost income, pain, and suffering they incurred due to the failure to refer.
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