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Can failure to refer lead to a medical malpractice claim?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2024 | Medical Malpractice |

If you visit a doctor and they realize your diagnosis or treatment is beyond their skills, they are required to refer you to a physician with more specialized knowledge and skills. However, doctors don’t always refer patients when they should. If you’re ill or injured, your doctor may fail to refer you or to do so in a timely manner. This is referred to as failure to refer.

Is this failure considered medical malpractice? When a doctor agrees to treat you when you request their services, a legal duty of care is created. This means they need to provide you with reasonable care, including noticing if you need the services of a specialist and referring you to them. A failure to do so could lead to grounds upon which to file a medical malpractice claim if other legal elements are met in re: your situation.

Did the doctor breach their duty of care?

By not referring you to a specialist or doing so on time, your doctor may have breached their duty of care. If another physician with the same competence as your doctor would have made a referral in a similar situation, that failure may constitute professional negligence.

Did the failure to refer harm you?

For a failure to refer to be considered medical malpractice, you will need to prove that the breach of duty of care in question caused you harm. Failure to refer can lead to several issues, including worsening a condition. For example, if a doctor notices a tissue mass that resembles a tumor, but fails to refer you to an oncologist for further tests, you may be diagnosed with cancer at an advanced stage, harm that could have been avoided or minimized by a timely referral.

If you can prove the above-discussed elements, you may be in a strong position to hold your physician accountable for medical malpractice. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to learn more.