Students in medical school are taught many things regarding aspects of the human body, surgical procedures, how to react to emergencies, how to diagnose problems, set bones, stitch cuts, and read test results. They are taught about ethical issues, personal issues in patients, and what to expect when giving their patients bad news. This is generally what we think about when we think of a medical education. However, medical students are not usually taught about medical malpractice.
Medical students understand that malpractice is a legal term for preventable medical errors. They also learn in passing that malpractice insurance is a necessity. However, after this there is usually no proper instruction regarding medical malpractice issues or malpractice law.
Could the lack of education about medical malpractice be responsible for the increase in medical errors?
There is still the question of whether the lack of educational training in medical malpractice increases the chance of malpractice events occurring. Some medical professional believe so. However, others believe that our aggressive legal system is the cause of the increase in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Of all the medical schools in the United States, only 37 percent require their students to take a course with medical malpractice as the main subject. These classes are designed to address both the practitioner’s actions and the legal field. However, they lack knowledge that pertains to real life. There are many that believe that these classes cause doctors to base their medical decisions on the risk of being sued rather than the outcome of treatment.
When doctors have been surveyed on the issue, many believe that the high rate of medical malpractice is due to frustration over being restricted in their treatment options from insurance companies, rather than a lack of education. These doctors believe that if insurance companies would stop denying services that are necessary for the patient’s treatment, the medical malpractice rates would drop. When patients do not respond well to treatments that have been approved by insurance companies, the doctor is the one who is sued for malpractice.
Colleges should implement a course dealing with medical malpractice issues and policies. Practicing physicians should design the course so that the real issues that new doctors will face will be addressed. Only teaching new doctors about the legal system does not give them the knowledge that they need to handles these issues in their practice. Additionally, it should be encouraged that doctors take refresher courses throughout their career.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.