In the emergency room, it is often difficult to take the time to determine who will be primarily responsible for caring for a patient, particularly because patients in the emergency room require immediate care, leaving little time for anything but treatment. But when problems crop up, such as an unexpected error in diagnosis, treatment plan, or procedures, doctors, nurses, and professionals in the emergency room may find themselves entangled in a battle of liability, even if they did not have strict responsibility for the client, medical malpractice defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale report.
The relationship between a doctor and patient is established when the patient seeks treatment or care for a medical issue. This is no different in the ER. The relationship is created by the physician’s agreement, either explicitly or implicitly, to treat a patient per his or her request. Through this agreement, the physician becomes responsible for the patient’s care. But in the ER, often many doctors and nurses are working as a team to get to the fastest solution and treatment plan possible, because of the nature of the injuries and illnesses they treat. In these cases, it may be hard to establish which medical professionals were involved directly with the patient and can assume full responsibility for care, and which doctors were brought in on the periphery for consultation or outside assistance.
In determining responsibility and liability, it is important to focus on whether the relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient has been established, medical malpractice defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale say. A physician must be involved in a critical way to the patient’s treatment or course of care.
For example, in Walters v. Rinker, a court ruled that the doctor who examined a culture or tumor had established a doctor-patient relationship. In this case, a pathologist examined a patient’s excised mass, and reported no malignancy present. Based on this evaluation, the patient’s doctors determined that the mass was benign, but two years later, the man was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma. The court ruled that the pathologist had established a relationship of care with the patient, even though he never actually met the man. The professional opinion that was provided by the pathologist was enough to set the course of treatment. This case establishes a precedent for a physician-patient relationship without direct patient contact.
From this case and others that have followed it, medical malpractice defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale know that a physician or consultant can be held responsible for a treatment plan that is established based on an outside consultation or examination. But the patient-doctor relationship should be established, usually through direct and formal language that sets up a partnership between an ER doctor and consultant regarding the patient, to protect all parties from potential liability.
At Lubell Rosen, a law firm specializing in healthcare and medical malpractice defense, our attorneys represent doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who are facing legal action from a patient. To discuss your case, contact an attorney at Lubell Rosen today.