The Hippocratic Oath is a wide-known saying, especially in the field of medicine. In fact, it’s an oath that is sworn by a lot of physicians to this day, as the oath is widely considered to be one of the core foundation of medical ethics today in the West. Principles under this oath, as popularised by Hippocrates, include non-maleficence and medical confidentiality, and other means of making sure patients are prioritised at all costs. This is why medical malpractice can become such a topic of contention not just in the field of medicine, but other related fields such as healthcare, as occurrences of malpractice have their implications on these fields.
Familiarity with the intricacies of medical malpractice and its effects on the healthcare industry can give you a better understanding on its implications to aspects of the industry such as pricing and availability of services. Should you plan on getting insurance or other forms of healthcare, having a general understanding on the influence of medical malpractice on such services might help you decide on what kind of service works best for you.
Medical Malpractice: In Today’s Time
Medical malpractice is not an easy topic to discuss, especially when it comes to its impact to the healthcare industry as a whole. When a doctor commits malpractice, its effects are primarily seen towards patients, doctors, and their respective lawyers. However, malpractice also has a staggering effect to the infrastructure of healthcare as a whole.
According to BBC News, more than 1.4 billion pounds have been paid by NHS trusts in England towards claimants of medical negligence cases, the amount a stunning increase from the 583 million pounds observed last 2008. The NHS Litigation Authority, the organisation handling these claims, said legal costs courtesy of claimants and the increasing number of claims have led to the staggering increase of payouts.
In the United Kingdom, it’s the NHSLA that is in charge of health trust coverage on claims by retrieving money from trusts annually based on their projected payouts. As such, both payouts and premiums for coverages rise almost proportionally. In the case of the UK, proving a medical malpractice claim is possible under the law, but it’s much trickier to accomplish given the NHS has the information about the incident. This means denials and delays can increase the costs of the cases themselves.
However, malpractice has recognisable effects in the healthcare industry, and some of them can be read below:
On Patients: Distrust, Discomfort
According to Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, perhaps one of the most significantly obvious effects of medical malpractice in the healthcare industry is how it can discourage patients from seeking healthcare services in the first place.
They stated if a certain hospital or medical practice has malpractice rumors, patients that would otherwise go there may be reluctant to visit and seek help. Relationships between doctors and patients are important to ensure proper medical attention is given and provided to patients, so malpractice can affect this cornerstone of medical practice significantly.
On Doctors: More Procedures, Less Providers
Another impact of malpractice in healthcare is how it can affect doctors themselves. Aside from the ones that are on the receiving end of the malpractice case, other doctors may have to move from one region to the next because of increasing premium costs. This means access of patients to reliable doctors may potentially decrease.
- A potential effect of this circumstance is that a patient’s access to efficient healthcare may actually be hindered if they live in places where there are high premiums.
- Another effect of malpractice on healthcare is something called “defensive medicine.” This is some doctors’ ways of makings ure a lot of procedures and tests are done to patients just to make sure they are protected against malpractice and negligence claims, even if they’re not necessary for a patient’s particular needs.
On Insurance: Increased Premiums, Payouts
Another impact of medical malpractice in healthcare is its potential to increase the costs to access said healthcare. Healthcare providers and physicians have raised arguments that higher healthcare costs are partly due to malpractice claims.
These claims were suggested because money paid to claimants may more or less be retrieved from insurance premiums and fees paid to doctors. When malpractice claims rewards claimants with millions of dollars’ or pounds’ worth of compensation, other patients may suffer.
The above are just some of the effects of medical malpractice in the healthcare industry. A lot of them may be more or less related to the cost and accessibility of healthcare across a wide demographic, which emphasises how grave the impact of a single malpractice case can provide to the entire industry. Remember, health is wealth, and it’s important to be aware of various elements surrounding the industry that can affect you and your overall condition should things such as accidents or in this case medical malpractice occur to you or a member of your family.
Being aware of how medical malpractice affects the greater reality of healthcare as a whole can at least give you an idea on how to approach medical malpractice should you or someone you know experience this. If you need someone to speak with regarding specifics, click here for more information.