Is it Considered Malpractice if a Doctor Does Not Refer a Patient?

When patients go to see a doctor, they trust they will receive quality treatment. However, some doctors are only general practitioners and do not have the knowledge to treat all conditions. When this happens, the doctor can refer their patient to a specialist who is trained in the matter and has the knowledge to treat them. The failure to refer a patient when it is needed can cause significant harm and the doctor could be held liable as a result, as it is considered medical malpractice. Continue reading below to learn more.

When is a Doctor Referral Necessary?

When a patient comes to a doctor for help, they establish a doctor-patient relationship. When this happens, the doctor is required to treat the patient until one of two things occurs: treatment is no longer needed or the patient ends the relationship. When a doctor is required to treat a patient, this includes referring them to another doctor for further assistance. This must be done in accordance with the “standard of care” that is determined by how other doctors would handle the situation. If another doctor would refer the patient, then it must be done. If a doctor does not provide the proper standard of care and a patient suffers as a result, they may be held responsible.

How Can the Failure to Refer Harm a Patient?

If a doctor fails to refer a patient to a specialist when they need it, it can cause the individual further undue harm. Situations where this can be seen include:

  • 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 

The failure to refer can also cause devastating fatalities in some cases. When this happens, the family of the deceased can pursue legal action instead on their behalf. This can be done to recover compensation for any medical expenses, lost income, pain, and suffering they incurred as a result.

Contact our Firm

Marc N. Needelman is an experienced attorney working throughout the state of Connecticut. If you need an attorney who is ready to fight for the financial compensation you deserve, please do not hesitate to contact us to set up a free initial consultation. Our firm deals with matters relating to real estate, personal injury, criminal defense, estate planning, and more.

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