Nurse on her phone during shift

Patients should receive competent medical care when they visit their doctors or go to the emergency room. When doctors undertreat patients with medical conditions, patients can suffer long-lasting injuries. 

You may be entitled to compensation if you or your loved one have suffered harm because a medical professional undertreated you. The Long Island medical malpractice attorneys at Dell & Dean, PLLC have a proven track record of fighting for victims of undertreatment of medical conditions. Contact Dell & Dean, PLLC to schedule a free case evaluation. 

New Payment Models Can Promote Undertreatment by Physicians

New coordinated care models are being promoted as ways to eliminate unnecessary procedures and tests. These new arrangements may reduce medical patient treatment costs but could encourage doctors to undertreat patients. When doctors feel financial pressure from administrators to save money by ordering fewer diagnostic tests, patients may not be diagnosed correctly and promptly. As a result, their medical condition may worsen, and fewer treatment options may become available. 

Doctors may order fewer expensive tests and procedures, resulting in the failure to diagnose or treat the patient’s condition properly. A study from the American College of Emergency Physicians reported that over 50 percent of approximately 1,800 emergency room doctors said the main reason they order the number of diagnostic tests they order is due to fear of malpractice lawsuits. 

Failure to Monitor Is a Form of Undertreatment

Medical treatment frequently requires more than diagnosing a patient’s medical condition and rendering the appropriate treatment. Reasonable medical treatment may require medical professionals to closely monitor a patient’s condition while under treatment and follow established procedures. A patient could suffer complications, or their condition could deteriorate at any time while under care. Common examples of failure to monitor patients include the following:

  • Failure to monitor a patient during surgery or a procedure, such as monitoring a patient’s vitals for any signs of complications or distress
  • Failure to monitor tests or scans the doctor has ordered
  • Failure to review the patient’s medical chart to ensure all tests, medications, and scans have been properly administered
  • Failure to monitor the patient’s recovery from surgery or treatment, including observing a patient for complications like blood clots, bleeding, or infections

Medical providers have a legal obligation to stay vigilant so they can quickly react to any complications that patients may experience. If you’ve suffered due to your medical provider’s failure to monitor your condition, you may have a legal claim for compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Undertreatment of Pain Can Seriously Injure Patients

Pain is the most common reason patients visit their doctors, and many Americans live with chronic pain. Unfortunately, many patients have suffered from the undertreatment of pain symptoms by doctors. Undertreatment of pain can occur in nearly any medical setting. Still, it is most common in patients with terminal illnesses, cancer, in the emergency room, post-operatively, and in connection with chronic pain conditions. 

Pain is a subjective experience, and it varies from patient to patient. Some doctors view pain as less important than physical symptoms, such as a high temperature or abnormal scan. Some pain conditions have no obvious causes, so some healthcare providers tend to dismiss patients’ pain as deceit or psychological distress. 

Undertreatment of pain, especially when patients have chronic medical conditions, can cause patient suffering. In addition to suffering, undertreatment of pain can cause additional physical problems. For example, when doctors don’t adequately treat pain after a client’s surgery, the patient’s heart rate and systemic vascular resistance could increase his or her risk of stroke, myocardial ischemia, bleeding, and other complications. 

Untreated pain can also cause neuronal alterations, such as central sensitization. In these cases, the patient’s pain can eventually become chronic and interfere with daily activities, impair sleep, and impair the patient’s ability to work and enjoy relationships with loved ones. Chronic pain can also result in anger, depression, and anxiety. 

Undertreatment in Older Adults with Cancer

A recent study related to patients over the age of 70 receiving cancer treatment showed that older patients are more likely to be undertreated or overtreated. The study found that undertreatment did occur in a significant percentage of cancer patients. 

Undertreatment occurs when the treating physician uses a less intensive cancer treatment plan than they would with a younger or fitter treatment. Of the 397 patients in the study, only 42 percent of whom received less intensive cancer treatment. Although the study showed that the use of chemotherapy without considering geriatric assessment variables was more common than undertreatment with older patients with cancer, undertreatment still occurs. 

Proving Liability in Undertreatment Medical Malpractice Cases

Recovering compensation for injuries sustained by a medical professional’s undertreatment can be challenging. To succeed in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, the victim must prove that the medical professional breached his or her duty of care to the patient and caused the patient’s injuries. 

The standard of care in medical malpractice cases refers to the type of care that a reasonably skilled and competent medical provider with a similar level of education within the same practice would have provided to the patient under the same treatment circumstances. 

For example, if a patient develops a chronic pain condition because of his or her doctor’s undertreatment of pain, the patient must prove that the doctor breached the standard of care. Suppose the doctor failed to document the patient’s history of pain, to consider all treatment options, or to consult a pain expert when a reasonable, similarly educated doctor would have taken those steps. In that case, the patient may have a claim for compensation. 

Contact a Long Island Medical Malpractice Attorney

Have you suffered injuries because of undertreatment by medical personnel? It’s important to understand your legal rights and options. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact Dell & Dean, PLLC to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more.