Friday, April 1, 2016

Can I Sue a Doctor for Patient Profiling?

Patient profiling is a term used to describe a kind of discrimination by doctors. When a healthcare provider treats a patient based on their “type” rather than assessing them individually, that is profiling, and it can lead to problems in treatment.

Doctors should assess each patient individually, but profiling alone is not likely going to be a basis for a lawsuit against a doctor or hospital, unless that profiling manifested in medical malpractice. So let’s explore the distinction between profiling, which is certainly unpleasant, and negligence law, which is based on actual injury.

Patient Profiling Primer

Dr. Pamela Wible, writing for Med Page Today’s blog, Kevin MD, discusses and defines patient profiling. She explains, “Patient profiling is the practice of regarding particular patients as more likely to have certain behaviors or illnesses based on their appearance, race, gender, financial status, or other observable characteristics.”

“Profiling disproportionately impacts patients with chronic pain, mental illness, the uninsured, and patients of color. Like racial profiling by police, patient profiling by physicians is more common than you think,” Dr. Wible writes. “Profiling patients often leads to improper medical care.”

That is where profiling starts to meet negligence in medicine. But there is still a distinction, as a medical malpractice suit must be predicated on an injury or harm that is compensable.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a form of negligence for medical professionals. Negligence in medicine manifests in errors in diagnosis, treatment, or illness management, for example.

If any of these are the cause of an injury to the patient and it can be proven that the doctor’s failures led to it, and that there were no unforeseeable intervening causes, then you have proven part of a claim. You must also show and that this harm can be compensated.

Now, if a doctor’s negligence arose as a result of patient profiling, and you were harmed then the doctor’s profiling, to the extent it can be shown, will help prove your malpractice claim. But profiling and negligence are not the same and one does not necessarily lead to the other, although it may be a strong sign that malpractice will arise if you are profiled as a patient.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you were treated poorly by a medical professional and were injured as a result, speak to a lawyer. Many personal injury attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your claim.

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