According to medical and legal experts, it’s time to expect a surge of medical malpractice lawsuits. Now that the pandemic is starting to come under control, many professionals predict rising medical accidents and lawsuits about those accidents.
But why? Many factors are in play: patients returning to medical facilities, doctors being overworked, and medical facilities trying to raise profits. Here’s what you need to know about how the pandemic affected medical care, why medical malpractice may be about to rise, and how to keep yourself safe.
The Pandemic-Led Patient Distancing Trend and the Response
The Covid-19 pandemic has had many impacts on the healthcare system. One lesser-known change is that many people actually avoided getting healthcare during 2020 and early 2021. Many people felt uncomfortable attending in-person doctor appointments or going to the hospital. This led to a dip in the number of procedures, and the care people received over the past year. Many call this trend “patient distancing” since these people often opted to receive virtual appointments whenever possible.
Furthermore, some municipalities even banned elective procedures entirely during the early months of the pandemic. This was intended to give hospitals and healthcare workers more bandwidth to support victims of the virus. It also contributed to the drop in the number of people getting care.
However, now that many people are vaccinated, this trend is starting to reverse. Some people have put off critical medical needs for a year or more, and they’re finding they can’t wait any longer. Others feel comfortable enough to return to get the elective procedures they delayed. Either way, it appears like there’s about to be a wave of patients returning to in-person healthcare that’s equal to or exceeds pre-Covid era healthcare usage.
The Rise of Physician Burnout
Despite patients feeling comfortable enough to come back to their doctors’ offices, physicians and other healthcare workers are still facing down a pandemic. Around the country, hospitals are filled to capacity. Many hospitals have ICUs full of Covid-19 patients, leaving non-Covid patients struggling to get care. This isn’t just a problem for people having acute health emergencies, either. The very healthcare professionals attempting to help all of these patients are wearing down and burning out.
Physician burnout has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. Even doctors and staff who aren’t directly confronted with caring for Covid-19 patients are still shouldering heavier workloads to help their coworkers. And when doctors burn out, it’s bad for everyone.
A burned-out healthcare worker is someone who’s exhausted, who can’t make emotional connections with patients, and who’s making mistakes. Essentially, physician burnout means that more people will suffer from doctors and nurses making dangerous mistakes during what should be routine care.
Why Medical Malpractice May Be About to Rise
When you consider these two elements – the rise in patients and the rise in burnout – it’s obvious that problems are in the future. Not only are healthcare professionals already primed to make mistakes, but they’re also about to get more overwhelmed. While there’s no way to tell precisely which doctors will perform malpractice-level errors and which patients will suffer them, it seems inevitable that people will get hurt.
Healthcare facilities may also contribute to these problems. Since many hospitals are already overloaded, it would make sense to simply limit the number of elective procedures they offer. However, privatized hospitals rely on elective procedures for income to keep their doors open. These healthcare facilities may choose to permit more elective procedures than they can safely handle to keep funds flowing. That will put unnecessary strain on their staff and lead to more malpractice events for patients of all types.
Protecting Yourself from Medical Malpractice
With all of these complications surrounding getting safe medical care, you may feel nervous about getting any healthcare. However, you shouldn’t put off necessary treatment. Medical malpractice is still less likely to affect you than the consequences of ignoring your health conditions. You can take a few steps to protect yourself from malpractice while getting the care you need.
Be Cautious with Elective Events
The simplest way to stay safe right now is to get medical care with caution. Know that your doctors are more likely to be overwhelmed and burned out than usual. If you’re considering a genuinely elective surgery or procedure, consider waiting until the pandemic is over. If you can’t wait, make sure you talk with your healthcare team and use your best judgment to determine if they seem burned out and unsafe.
Know Your Health Status
You are your own best health advocate. Know your health status before you go to see the doctor. You should know the medications and supplements you take, any allergies you have, and any conditions that will affect your care. More importantly, you should know the biggest problems these things can cause for your health. For example, you should know the significant drug interactions for your medications so you can speak up if you’re prescribed something dangerous.
Bring a Friend
It’s easy to miss minor details when you’re alone and getting healthcare. If you’re concerned about forgetting important information or you don’t think you can speak up for yourself, have a friend come with you. They can act as another set of eyes and ears and speak up if your healthcare team doesn’t give you the attention you need.
Avoid Unnecessary Malpractice Risks
The past year and a half has seen the entire world reevaluate what it means to put health first. If you, like many, have realized how important your health is, you should take steps to protect it. Be cautious and do your research when getting medical care in the coming year to avoid joining the predicted wave of medical malpractice sufferers.
If you’ve already become a victim of healthcare malpractice, you’re not alone. Get the help you need to return to your normal life by getting in touch with a qualified medical malpractice attorney. You deserve compensation for your medical expenses and suffering. Schedule your malpractice consultation today to start getting your life back on track.