The doctor-patient relationship does not always end when the patient leaves the office or hospital. Under some circumstances, adequate medical services require that the physician follow-up with the patient to ensure their well-being and provide additional treatment when necessary. When a doctor fails to meet this responsibility, the patient may face further complications or even new injuries. If you have questions about your doctor’s actions, here are some common scenarios where the failure to follow-up can result in serious consequences:
- Following up on test result. When doctors order laboratory tests, it is their responsibility to obtain, read and respond to the results. Far too often, test results are left in a file without any evaluation. When this occurs, a life-threatening condition may be undiagnosed, misdiagnosed or untreated. For example, cancer is a disease that worsens over time without adequate treatment. If a physician fails to review biopsy test results, the cancer may worsen to the point where even the most aggressive therapies may not be sufficient to save the patient’s life.
- Missed Appointments. Patients miss appointments on a regular basis, but physicians have a duty to follow up when a missed appointment could have detrimental consequences. Patients receiving in-office treatments or those with conditions that require close monitoring could be at risk from missing an appointment. Physicians should follow up to check on their wellbeing and warn about the potential dangers of missing their appointments.
- Medication risks. Some medications have a high risk of addiction. When prescribing these drugs, physicians have a duty to follow up with the patient before authorizing refills. Follow ups are also appropriate for drugs with dangerous side effects and patients with a history of addiction.
- When a physician directs a patient to the hospital, it is the doctor’s responsibility to follow up and ensure that the patient followed the instruction. For example, a pregnant woman goes in for a regular monthly checkup. Her doctor finds that her blood pressure is extremely elevated and instructs her to go straight to the hospital. It is the doctor’s responsibility to follow up with the hospital regarding the patient.
- There is always a risk for complications following surgery, from infection to improper healing of the surgical area. That is why it is vitally important for physicians to follow up with their patients following a procedure. This may include office visits, telephone calls or coordination with an at-home nursing service. If inadequate postoperative follow up leads to injury, the doctor may be liable.
Call Knowledgeable Attorneys to Discuss Concerns About Your Follow Up Care
If a doctor’s failure to follow up has harmed you or someone you love, contact the Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. law firm of Schochor and Staton, P.A. today. Call us at 410-234-1000 or complete our online contact form.