Claims of Negligence in Health Care
Your goal as a health care provider is to help your patients achieve improved health through proven treatment and care. Though each patient responds to care and reaches goals differently, at the end of the day, you want to feel confident you’ve treated your patients with expertise and compassion. You would never intend to make a mistake. But despite all your best intentions, mistakes still happen and, unfortunately, in the world of health care, the consequences of a mistake can be serious.
Simply being the cause of an injury or discomfort to a patient is agonizing. If the patient or the family sues you for negligence, then things can quickly go from bad to worse.
The types of lawsuits brought against health care workers run the gamut. We see claims ranging from back injuries, bill disputes and seemingly minor injuries, to accusations of sexual wrongdoing, and even wrongful death cases. These claims are the result of a patient’s allegations of improper treatment or negligence on the part of the health care professional, and the costs associated with them can rise into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What makes for a valid lawsuit?
For a claim of negligence against a health care worker to be valid, and means for the reimbursement of expenses to the claimant, there must be proven physical harm or injury to the patient. If a physician can prove harm or injury, then reimbursement will usually be rewarded. Such reimbursements can be made for medical expenses, lost wages, mental distress, economic loss, a diminished quality of life and permanent physical damage.
What About Underlying Causes?
With the nature of some claims, like those involving injuries of massage and physical therapy patients, it’s common practice to explore the idea of an underlying condition that may be the true cause of the injury. Patients under the care of massage, physical or occupational therapy have often suffered an accident or undergone surgery, which can be determined as the originating source behind an injury. A competent counselor will be diligent in the discovery process, looking for what else might be the real cause for the injury rather than their client’s negligence. Likewise, even if there are underlying factors that are found to contribute to an injury, a good attorney on the claimant’s side will still likely claim negligence of the health care professional in defense of their client.
Your Best Defense
You can’t fully predict what might happen as a result of the treatment you provide. Claims of your negligence can surface months or years after the care was given. With your clinical training and the promise signified by your professional designation backing you, you’ve got great footing for a successful career. That said, health care professionals can never be too careful and should secure a Professional Liability Insurance policy. A Professional Liability Insurance policy provides a financial safeguard against claims made against you, whether they’re found to be groundless or not. It’s insurance coverage every health care provider should carry.