A doctor uses hyaluronic acid fillers on his aging patient's hands. His patient suffers complications and sues for medical malpractice, alleging that the doctor used the product for a non-FDA approved purpose.
In malpractice cases allegations of a failure to follow the chain-of-command policy often are made retrospectively, knowing the bad outcome and claiming that nurses had a responsibility to obtain additional medical care that would have prevented the patient’s injury.
Thirty-six states have “apology laws” that prohibit certain statements or expressions of sympathy by a physician from being admissible in a lawsuit. Experts in the field say that while the laws may help some physicians feel more comfortable about expressing empathy, they aren’t really necessary to avoid lawsuits. Instead, good patient-physician relationships and open disclosure are the keys to responding successfully to a bad outcome.
Physicians need to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of screening tests and procedures with patients and document the discussions in their records to protect themselves if they are sued for medical malpractice.