Saturday, October 25, 2014

Negligent Referral

Did you know that physicians can be sued under the theory of negligent referral? If the referring physician knew or should have known that the specialist would act below the standard of care, he can be liable for negligence. The plaintiff has the burden of proof in this particular situation. In one particular case, the court stated that the referring physician must be diligent and as a gatekeeper for referrals. 

Physicians can also be held liable for referring the patient to the wrong type of specialist, for example, if you refer a patient to a Neurologist, when they really need to see a Neurosurgeon. 

What is the best way to avoid getting sued under this doctrine? When referring a patient to a specialist, unless you know of the specialist qualifications and a reasonable physician would also refer the same specialist, it is probably best to tell he patient what type of specialist they need and let them research and find a specialist they would like to see within their health plan. 


American Association for Justice. Negligent referral is a valid claim, court says. The Free Library. June 1, 1999. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Negligent+referral+is+a+valid+claim,+court+says.-a054939489

Crane, M. Legal Pitfalls when you Refer Patients. Medscape. August 21, 2014. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/828402

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