Until recently, we were used to viewing the healthcare system as a robust system that could handle any eventualities thrown at it. Then the Pandemic came and exposed more vulnerabilities of the healthcare system, according to caseyshomolaw.com. A medical malpractice law firm notes that the pandemic has created concerns of losing jobs for some doctors and at the same time also created endless practice opportunities for others.
What Medical Malpractice Risks Has the Pandemic Exposed?
Covid 19 is caused by a novel virus that has never before been experienced anywhere in the world. For this reason, there is no standard of care for the virus by the medical community. In response to the disease, the innovative medical community has initiated new, unproven treatment protocols that may expose them to medical malpractice risks.
1. Decision-Making for Discharges and Admissions
The new disease progression may be different for each individual, and as such, medical practitioners are having a difficult time deciding whether to discharge or continue isolating the patient. The standard practice recommends discharge for patients with improvements at home as long as there are available resources to facilitate recovery and stop the spread. On the other hand, patients with serious illnesses need to continue treatment and advanced support at the hospital.
Doctors may face difficulties when they discharge a patient for home isolation, who then develops a severe disease that puts them at risk of death and other complications, resulting in a medical malpractice suit.
2. Decision-Making Regarding Resource Allocation
The presence of the pandemic does not mean treatment for other ailments is on hold. Effective disease response requires proper allocation of resources geared towards treatment. The pandemic has exhausted resources allocated to it, but the disease has not come to an end.
It has forced medical practitioners to get both human and financial resources to treat and care for other diseases. Patients suffering from other conditions may not receive adequate care for those illnesses.
3. Offering Inconclusive Informed Consent to Patient
Patients requiring intensive procedures, such as surgery or going on a respirator, require informed consent before undergoing the procedure. Informed consent involves communicating the risks emanating from the process. The hospital environment during the pandemic may uncover surprises, putting the patient’s life at risk, which was not shared before when seeking informed consent.
4. Inadequate and Ineffective Documentation
There is a need to record important patient information to enhance effective care. Overstretched resources may overwhelm the practitioners, such that they forget to document crucial patient information. Unavailable documentation to correspond with the physical manifestation in a patient may create a conclusion of medical malpractice in case of an eventuality.
5. Relaxation on Licensing Requirements
Some medical practitioners have fallen sick with the virus, and others have lost their lives. States seem to have relaxed licensing requirements to allow the medics ample time to respond to the pandemic. Retired and unlicensed practitioners are stepping in to cover the human resource deficit.
Unfamiliarity with the updated procedures for the standard of care may expose them to unethical techniques that may result in medical malpractice.
There Is Still Enough Time to Prepare
The pandemic period has exposed numerous loopholes in the medical profession. There is a likelihood for more eventualities, now that the disease is still evolving. There is a need for the medical and legal professions to introspect and prospect and prepare beforehand to deal with any eventualities based on the present disease trends. Otherwise, the most prominent medical malpractice disaster of our time is looming.