From medication errors to misdiagnosis, patients throughout the US are initiating medical malpractice lawsuits that could have been avoided with better doctor-patient communication. Studies conducted over the past few decades have revealed a disconnect between what a medical practitioner says and what a patient hears. Diagnosis, prognosis, and medication instructions are examples of misunderstood medical information that may have been avoided with better communication.
Physician Lawsuit Trends
Studies going back to 1989 have revealed a common thread in repeat offenders with regard to medical malpractice suits: physicians who experienced a lawsuit were more likely to be sued again in the future. A subsequent study done in Florida showed approximately 6% of obstetricians were responsible for over 70% of all lawsuit expenses over a five-year time span. This has many researchers theorizing that doctors who have experienced a legal issue somehow handle their practice differently compared to those who have not, despite the outcome of their previous cases.
Another study examined correlations between a doctor’s malpractice history and his patients’ satisfaction. Those who had been involved in a lawsuit had a significantly higher rate of patient dissatisfaction, with complaints including patients feeling rushed or ignored. In some instances, patients claimed their physician did not take the time to explain reasons for tests and prognosis. Physicians with a history of previous malpractice suits had twice as many patient complaints as those without medical malpractice history, and poor communication was the number one criticism overall.
- Numerous studies have shown that physicians who take the time to educate and engage with their patients, ask questions and incorporate a level of humor and comfort are significantly less likely to be sued.
- Gaps in communication between doctors and patients are cited in about 40% of malpractice lawsuits.
- A 2009 study published in Medical Care Journal reported that patients with poorly communicating doctors have a 19% increased risk of medical non-compliance than those with doctors who listen, answer questions, and educate.
- In the mid-1990’s, the University of Michigan implemented a program among medical professionals to enhance communication with patients, including explaining reasons for any errors that arose, how they were hoping to prevent them in the future, and apologizing for the error. Fifteen years after the program began, a study revealed a 36% decrease in malpractice claims, while lawsuits decreased by 65%. Liability and patient compensation costs dropped 59% monthly, while legal expenses fell by 61%.
Berkowitz and Hanna LLC – Medical Malpractice in Connecticut
Approximately 10% of patients are harmed temporarily or permanently as a result of medical error. If you have experienced an injury or medical issue due to poor communication or any other contributing factor, you may be entitled to compensation for your hardship. At Berkowitz and Hanna LLC, our experienced attorneys will work tirelessly for the outcome you deserve. Serving Stamford, Danbury, and Bridgeport, we are always available for a free consultation. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC to discuss your case today.