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Noncompliance as a medical malpractice defense

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2023 | Personal Injury Defense

Sometimes patients claim medical practitioners are negligent when their pain and suffering are due to their own errors or misjudgment. Such negligence by patients may be more common than people realize.

For example, studies show that 50% of patients do not take their medicine according to instructions. Reports also found that up to 80% of nonadherence is intentional. Doctors can be alert to such situations to fight medical malpractice claims.

Understanding reasons patients do not follow treatment

A patient might avoid following instructions for various reasons. A doctor should ensure that noncompliance does not stem from any professional negligence.

Patients might fail to follow treatment due to a language barrier or misunderstanding the medical terminology. Other individuals deny the severity of their condition or fear the side effects of a procedure or medication.

Also, various patients may be unable to afford the medication or treatment due to a lack of insurance or because copayments are too high. Noncompliance could even come down to laziness or a lack of motivation.

Documenting non-compliance

Physicians and health care professionals may be able to fight a malpractice case successfully with sufficient documentation to demonstrate a patient’s noncompliance. Extensive records can prove to be valuable evidence.

Doctors can also be attentive to communicating with others on the patient’s care team. A primary care physician and specialists should make reasonable efforts to coordinate a care regimen to avoid liability.

When patients neglect to care for themselves properly, doctors may even have cause for refusing to treat a patient to avoid claims of neglect. Physicians can prepare for whatever action is necessary to defend against unjustified lawsuits.