Is It Bad Bedside Manners, or Medical Malpractice?June 21, 2021
Good bedside manners are important. Most people have anxiety about being in the hospital or undergoing an operation. Bedside manner from nurses and doctors can make the experience much more tolerable or much worse.
Medical professionals come in all types. Some are compassionate, caring, and attentive. Others are quite the opposite, not spending much time with patients and treating them with disrespect and indignation.
Attitude alone would not rise to the standard of medical malpractice. But terrible bedside manner will make it more likely that a patient will sue a doctor for medical malpractice if something goes wrong.
Bedside Manner and Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Doctors are human, and they may make mistakes. Unfortunately, those mistakes can cause lifelong and even deadly consequences for their patients.
Doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals are sued at alarming rates. Doctors with bad bedside manners are sued more frequently than their more compassionate counterparts.
One of the most common frustrations from patients is doctors who do not listen to them. Some people might think that doctors should not listen to their patients. They would not tell a mechanic how to fix their car, so they should not tell a doctor how to cure them.
But that oversimplifies most patients’ real complaint. Surgery is scary. Patients want their doctors to listen to their concerns and assure them everything is going to be all right. Understandably, doctors may simply not have time to spend with patients because they have other duties to attend to.
If a patient does not feel comfortable with their doctor, they may not have any options. Depending on the surgery the patient needs, it is possible that only a few select doctors specialize in that area of medicine and the patient has no choice but to move forward with that doctor.
In some cases, patients never even meet the doctor who will operate on them. This has a sterile feeling to it that can put many patients into an uneasy state.
Doctors used to speak with patients, joke with them, make them feel comfortable with what was coming. That rarely happens today. Whether it is a symptom of a stressed medical system or an unwillingness from certain medical professionals to put in face time with their patients, it makes patients uneasy.
It also makes patients more likely to sue. When a doctor ignores a patient and something bad happens, there is no connection between the patient and the doctor. For the same reason that people do not like to sue their neighbor when the neighbor’s tree falls and causes damage to their house, patients who have a connection with their doctor are less likely to bring a medical malpractice claim should something go wrong during their surgery.
Is it Medical Malpractice?
Patients need to trust their doctors. Their lives are quite literally in the hands of these medical professionals. When a doctor is rude or disrespectful, it can make the patient’s experience much more difficult to endure.
Bad bedside manners may be a sign that the doctor is just bad. Just like lawyers, not all doctors are created equal. Some doctors take great care to make sure they have the knowledge and understanding in their field of specialty. Others simply treat what they do as just a regular job, not considering that, in many cases, someone’s life may be in their hands.
Poor bedside manners alone may not qualify as medical malpractice. However, if the doctor’s bad bedside manner created harm that a victim can prove with evidence, they may be able to collect compensation from the doctor.
If a doctor’s bad bedside manners caused a patient provable harm in which they incurred additional costs or injuries, that patient may have a claim for medical malpractice against the negligent doctor. If a doctor verbally abused a patient or simply mistreated them but no actual harm resulted, the patient may not have a medical malpractice claim.
Proving Medical Malpractice
When a doctor has poor bedside manners, it may show trouble is coming. To rise to the level of medical malpractice, the poor bedside manner must directly contribute to the patient’s harm. If another doctor, under similar circumstances, would have acted differently and reasonably, the poor actions of the doctor may rise to the level of medical malpractice.
To prove medical malpractice, a patient must show:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed.
- The doctor acted in an unreasonable manner.
- The doctor’s actions caused an injury to the patient.
- The patient has suffered damages.
Damages can be physical but also financial. If a patient has gotten better but incurred additional medical costs to do so, they may have a claim against the negligent doctor.
Failure to Communicate
A common cause of medical malpractice lawsuits involves a doctor’s failure to properly communicate with their patient. Doctors have a duty to discuss medical options with a patient. If they fail to do that, the patient may not be able to make an informed decision.
Doctors must discuss with patients all reasonable medical options for their ailment, including any side effects and risks to each type of treatment. In strong medical malpractice claims, a patient may be able to prove that, had their doctor communicated with them, the patient would have made a different decision.
Another common reason for a medical malpractice claim is delayed diagnosis. When a patient goes to see a doctor and describes their pain and what happened to them, a doctor should be able to at least narrow down what is wrong with the patient.
In delayed diagnosis cases, the doctor may not listen to what the patient is saying and miss important medical information. Failing to listen clearly to a patient can result in a doctor missing clues that could lead them to a solution for the patient’s suffering.
Related to this, doctors may also misdiagnose a patient by not clearly listening to what their patient tells them. Either of these diagnosis problems could lead to a patient suffering additional physical pain and incurring massive medical costs to recover.
Some doctors make decisions for their patients. This might be necessary in certain circumstances, such as if a patient is undergoing surgery to repair a kidney but, once the doctor begins the operation, they see the kidney is damaged beyond repair. At that moment, a doctor might make the decision to remove the kidney without first consulting with the patient.
In other cases, however, a doctor may tell a patient that they only have one course of treatment. This omission by the doctor could cause a patient to go ahead with an operation without all of the facts necessary to make such an important choice.
Other Examples of Medical Malpractice
Not every bad result of a surgery or medical procedure is caused by a negligent doctor. But many are, and some patients may not even realize it.
Other examples of events giving rise to a medical malpractice claim include the following:
- Childbirth injuries
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Hospital infections
Bad bedside manners can create a situation in which a patient suffers an injury or economic damages because of negligent medical care. To know for sure, a patient should speak with a lawyer after first ensuring they are healthy and stable. On first glance, a doctor may just not be a nice person. But if a patient has suffered additional injuries, the doctor may be to blame and the best way to find out for sure is to contact a lawyer.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Victims Recover
Going to the doctor, having surgery, or getting a prescription filled, you expect absolute accuracy from your medical professionals. After all, their job is to help you get better. Unfortunately, that does not always happen, and you may suffer more serious injuries from medical malpractice. If you do, you have legal options. Contact the experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton today to find out your options and chart a path forward. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.