Medical Malpractice BLOG

Medical Malpractice BLOG

On Switching Doctors Following a Medical Malpractice Claim

Patricia Hughes - Wednesday, August 08, 2012

            There was a question raised on Internet Q&A service Quora recently that looks at another angle of a question medical malpractice attorneys get asked very often.  Frequently clients of ours will ask whether a medical negligence suit will impact their ability to receive care in the future.  In general, victims of medical malpractice do not have any trouble finding a suitable replacement doctor in the St. Louis region.  In fact, for reasons that may be obvious, it is perhaps encouraged to find a different physician or specialist for care subsequent to a medical malpractice claim.  The reasons for switching doctors after a medical negligence claim may be entirely justifiable on the surface, but there are other angles of such a decision that play a role as well.

            Ethically, doctors have a duty to ensure that patients receive care appropriate to their condition, however as Bertil Hatt points out on the Quora topic, there is no reason a particular doctor should be compelled to be the one giving care, as long as someone reasonably qualified to do so is in the same geographic area.  In rural areas or places where the availability of healthcare providers is limited, the case may well be different, but in cities like St. Louis there is typically no such issue in finding a replacement.  

In fact, the prior claims of medical negligence may make an argument for the original provider to deem him or herself unsuitable for a subsequent procedure as a result of the strain on the doctor-patient relationship, especially if the case ends up going to trial.  Whether the doctor believes in his or her professional capacity to perform the procedure despite the strain, he or she may opt to recuse themselves just as attorneys occasionally do on sensitive cases.  Just as in any relationship, both the patient and the doctor can have equally justifiable reasons for wanting to end it.

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