When a patient visits a doctor, a serious problem that is out of the physician’s expertise may be uncovered. For example, a patient may visit a doctor because of a migraine, but tests can show signs of a brain tumor. In such an instance, the doctor is required to refer the patient to an oncologist for further tests. But the physician may fail to refer the patient to another doctor.
Here is what to know about failure to refer:
It can lead to severe complications
Failure to refer is dangerous. Firstly, a condition may worsen. Using the above-mentioned example, the patient’s cancer may spread due to missed or delayed diagnosis.
Other consequences of failure to refer include delay in treatment, a need for surgery, administration of wrong medication, temporary/permanent disability, loss of ability to work, additional health conditions and death.
It can be considered medical malpractice
For failure to refer to be considered medical malpractice, the physician should have had the duty to provide reasonable care to the patient, which includes referring them to another doctor. Since the patient in the example above had already established a relationship with the doctor, the doctor owed them a duty of care. The doctor breached this duty by not referring the patient to the oncologist.
Further, if a patient can show they sustained injuries or damages due to the breach, a case may be considered medical malpractice.
Additionally, if it can be established that a similar doctor would have referred the patient to another doctor to avoid injuries/damages, the doctor in question can be liable for medical malpractice.
If a doctor fails to refer you to someone else when they should have, resulting in harm, consider getting legal help to protect your rights.