Understanding a Doctor's Responsibility Towards Patients

A doctor has an enormous responsibility when it comes to the care of patients. There's a host of errors they can make, which will have a detrimental effect on the patient, including prescribing incorrect medication.


Orders given to staff, including nurses, medical students and residents, are included in the doctor's jurisdiction. The Hippocratic oath prescribes the doctor acts in the interests of the patient and if this is broken, there are serious consequences.


Medical malpractice


Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed during the treatment process. Medical negligence occurs when a doctor breaches or violates the duty of care to the patient. According to Hastings Law Firm in Texas, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis are the most common causes of malpractice suits. The rationale is the patient has missed opportunities for the correct treatment and could well result in fatalities.


While the cases of medical malpractice are mostly dropped, they still result in huge expenses for the defendant and damages to their practice reputation.


Diagnosis and treatment


A doctor's professionalism should extend to making the correct diagnosis and prescribing the correct medication and therapy regimens, if needed. So, the entire field of patient care is a direct responsibility of the doctor.


Unfortunately, making an incorrect diagnosis is, ,a common practice and leads to wasted time in a patient's treatment and recovery. The doctor should always base a diagnosis on the most updated scientific information at hand. If there is any doubt, the patient should be referred to a specialist. Follow-up is an important part of the care process and one that is commonly ignored.


Give patients information


Doctors often disregard giving the complete picture of the nature of an illness to a patient. The patient has a right to all the information possible for what he or she has presented with. The doctor should inform the patient what the diagnosis is based on (symptoms), the prognosis, possible risks of the treatment, and what other treatment options may be available.


Doctors should also tell patients that they can seek another doctor for a second opinion. Very often, doctors have an aggressive attitude towards patients' questions. Part of their care of that patient is seeing to it that the entire picture of that condition has been explained and all questions answered in a professional, caring manner.


Free and informed consent


A doctor is required to get the free and informed consent of a patient when all the facts of a condition have been presented to the patient. Doctors may go ahead and book specialist consultations and surgery without this consent. This is an incorrect procedure.


Only once all the facts are known to the patient, including after-treatment care, and the reputation of the specialist the doctor has in mind for referral been given, can free and informed consent be given by the patient. A patient must be regularly informed about the state of treatment and what effects it is having on their health.


In other words, it is not a once-off situation. It is a continuous process whereby information is obtained at every stage of treatment.


Respect confidentiality


A patient's confidentiality must always be respected, and this includes obviating the careless lying about open patient files on a receptionist's desk, in full view of anyone requesting information or paying an account. A doctor-patient relationship is like a lawyer-client relationship in that both are bound by confidentiality.


The patient's rights to confidentiality must always be respected and upheld by the doctor. It is up to the patient to waive that when it comes to informing partners or family.

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