When you think of medical malpractice, you often imagine cases where a doctor makes a mistake that leads to harm to the patient. However, it can take other forms beyond medical errors, including issues related to bedside manner.
Bedside manner refers to a doctor’s ability to communicate and interact with patients in a way that shows compassion, respect and empathy.
Can bad bedside manner be considered malpractice?
Bad bedside manner refers to a doctor’s lack of communication skills, poor interpersonal skills or intentionally mean-spirited behavior when interacting with a patient. Examples of bad bedside manner include talking down to patients, dismissing their concerns, failing to listen to them or being rude.
While bad bedside manner is not a direct medical error, it can impact the quality of care a patient receives. Patients who feel disrespected or ignored may be less likely to trust their doctor’s advice or comply with their potentially life-saving treatment plans.
In some cases, bad bedside manner can be considered medical malpractice. If a doctor’s behavior is so egregious that it causes harm to a patient, it may constitute malpractice. For example, if a doctor’s dismissive attitude causes a patient’s condition to worsen, resulting in additional medical expenses or lost wages, the patient may be able to pursue a malpractice claim.
Proving malpractice from bedside manner
Proving bad bedside manner as a form of malpractice can be a difficult task for affected patients. It is difficult to measure the impact of a doctor’s attitude on a patient’s health outcomes. Furthermore, proving that a doctor’s behavior directly caused harm to a patient may require extensive evidence and the advice of an expert.
However, those suffering negative consequences resulting from a doctor’s poor bedside manner should overlook the behavior. With appropriate evidence, a case can be made that connects the healthcare professional’s behavior with the negative outcome.
Bedside manner is important to a patient’s prognosis
Bad bedside manner can impact the quality of care a patient receives, but it is not always considered malpractice under the law. Patients who feel their doctor’s behavior has caused harm should seek to hold them responsible while healthcare providers should prioritize communication and empathy when interacting with their patients to ensure the best possible outcome.