Patient Research and Your Medical Liability

Physician Talking with PatientOn this blog, we are often talking about the internet as it relates to physicians –from online reviews of physicians and their practices to necessary precautions to take to avoid a data breach to the use of smartphones. But, today we are going to talk about how patients may use the internet for research and how it can affect a physician and open him or her up to medical liability.

In the very democratic era of the internet, patients now have access to tons of medical information that previously only physicians were privy to and this is posing problems for physicians in terms of their medical liability. In essence, patients now have the ability to try and diagnose themselves.

And, thanks both to the internet and television, patients are now being advertised to and researching drugs more than ever before. Patients today are aware of many drugs, know what they are intended to treat, and are walking into their physician’s office and asking for prescriptions.

While we here at support patient education and patient empowerment, sometimes information can be a dangerous thing if not handled properly. While physicians need to listen to their patients and consider the information they bring to them, they need to be careful to not be swayed by the information. Physicians need to maintain their clinical judgement and not be influenced by a seemingly well-researched diagnosis by a patient. And, physicians need to not give in to patients who may have in mind the exact drug they need for what ails them –no matter how insistent they are –if it is not appropriate. Being wrongly influenced by a patient, or giving in to a patient, can open up a significant medical liability for a physician. Physicians should listen to their patients, but still arrive at their own, independent clinical decisions.

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