There are many laws that keep safety top of mind for patients visiting a doctor’s office.
“Patients I think often feel like they are powerless and they should not feel that way,” said Indiana University of Bloomington Professor of Law, Jody Madeira.
The doctor’s office should be a place of care and safety but Madeira said sometimes physicians can take advantage of patients in vulnerable situations.
“That might be the opportunity where an unscrupulous physician might take a photo or touch intimately in a way that is not clinical standard of care.”
Patients should know consent is always required.
“If the doctor is doing these things without a conversation, without asking the patients to sign paperwork, that is not normal,” said Madeira.
If you believe malpractice has happened during a doctor’s visit:
- Talk with your physician.
- Ask why they are following certain procedures
- Get a copy of your medical records before you leave so they cannot be altered.
- File a complaint with the Medical Board in Indiana
- The medical board licenses physicians
- Hire an attorney
“Now in Indiana, patients have to go before what is called a medical review board, in order to determine whether there has been medical malpractice, before filing suit,” said Madeira.
The board is composed of a team of doctors that will look at the evidence and decide whether malpractice has occurred.
“If it appears that something is indeed wrong, then a medical malpractice attorney can help talk patients through the process. Identify likely outcomes. Whether it is a settlement, getting a procedure redone, and it can help provide patients with a little more power,” said Madeira.
The attorney said the cases very rarely go to court. Most are sorted out between the patient and the health system, but they can be hard to prove.
”But if there is a trend of these types of complaints that can legitimize a patient’s concerns,” said Madeira.
Other advice Madeira gives, bring a friend with you to an exam. Have that person take notes and pay attention.
She also said it never hurts to get a second opinion and visit another doctor.