Common Legal Issues That Medical Professionals Face
There are many reasons why people choose to enter the medical profession. Most are interested in the prospect of helping others in pain, first and foremost. But of course, having a challenging and rewarding career is only the beginning. If you’re looking to become a medical professional, you may also be interested in benefits like a hefty salary and the prestige that comes along with gaining the knowledge and developing the skills required to practice in the field of medicine. You’ll spend a lot of time and money preparing to become a doctor, but the payoffs are massive. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility, and there’s no power greater than that over life and death. As a result, your patients will place a lot of trust in you, and if their expectations aren’t met, they will be understandably upset. And this could result in legal issues, whether you are actually in the wrong or not. So you might want to understand potential legal problems that could arise before you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and several years of your life in school.
Perhaps the most well-known issue faced by legal professionals is malpractice. It is also one of the most serious and it encompasses several areas of medical practice. It could include any instance of negligence or improper or outright illegal behavior pertaining to the treatment of patients or the way you manage your medical practice, which makes it a fairly broad category for lawsuits. Unfortunately, even medical professionals that do everything right could still face malpractice suits. Patients that feel as though they have been misled, misinformed, misdiagnosed, mistreated, or otherwise subjected to poor medical practices may decide to lawyer up and launch a lawsuit. This isn’t to say that they will win, especially if your practice is squeaky clean and you follow your legal, practical, and ethical obligations to a tee. But these attacks can certainly be time consuming and costly, nonetheless. And losing such a lawsuit could leave you stripped of your license to practice medicine.
Another legal issue in medicine with which you may be familiar is confidentiality. As a doctor, there are very strict parameters pertaining to how you may handle the privileged medical information gathered during the course of treating your patients. There are specific limitations on how medical data may be utilized and/or released, and often you’ll need signed legal documents from the patients themselves or their appointed legal caretakers in order to release medical information. And this pertains not only to you, but to your office as a whole. So you want to make sure that your employees are trustworthy since their actions can reflect on you and land you in legal hot water where this issue is concerned.
Finally, you need to consider that ethical violations could cause you legal problems. Suppose, for example, that you enter into a personal relationship with a patient. This is not technically illegal, but further suppose that the personal relationship fizzles and that the patient later claims you used your position of power and authority to coerce the personal relationship. You can see how the legal waters might be muddied. So it’s best to maintain a professional and ethical attitude at all times. Whether you are employed in a hospital, you own and operate a private practice, or you work in a clinic that specializes in pain management and injury relief, just for example, you need to be aware of potential legal issues that are common in the medical community. In this way you can strive to protect yourself and your staff even as you see to the health needs of your patients.