Types of Medical Malpractice Insurance

Failure to Treat


Most Common Failure to Treat Malpractice Cases 

Inadequate treatment of a patient with a medical condition is considered a Failure to Treat malpractice case if caused by a physician’s medical error, substandard care, or negligence. A physician is expected to use special knowledge and skills in the most appropriate manner when performing any treatment, surgical operation, or invasive investigation.

Failure to treat a patient may result in medical malpractice if the failure was caused by negligence, medical error or substandard care. These lawsuits are often caused by: 

  • Failure to perform correct or necessary medical tests
  • Not treating a patient due to lack of insurance
  • Failure to treat a medical condition in a timely manner
  • Not treating a medical condition at all
  • Failure to refer patients with demanding conditions to other specialists
  • Failure to advise a patient of all medical treatment options

When a physician fails to treat or incorrectly treats a patient,  they are subjected to potentially harsher treatments or irreversible damages. Not only does failure to treat result in harm, but in extreme cases may result in a wrongful death.


Which Specialties Are Affected the Most?

According to data from the Medscape Malpractice report from 2017, 17% of all lawsuits against physicians were from failure to treat reports. Among all physicians, 20% of primary care physicians and 16% of specialists were involved in a failure to treat malpractice case. The following physician specialties are the most frequently affected by failure to treat lawsuits:

  • Vascular specialists - Deep vein thrombosis complications
  • Primary care - Kidney issues and heart conditions
  • Emergency physicians - Head injuries, chest pains, and appendicitis
  • Surgeons - Spinal surgery


What Can Practitioners Do to Limit the Occurrence of Failure to Treat Cases?

Physicians can limit the occurrence of failure to treat incidents by ensuring adequate patient care and treatment. The following should be implemented by physicians to lower the frequency of these types medical malpractice cases:

  • Do not dismiss presenting symptoms as temporary, minor, or not worthy of treatment.
  • Choose appropriate treatment for your patient and administer competently.
  • Follow a systematic approach to ensure an accurate treatment is given.
  • Avoid applying novel approaches during routine treatments.

It is important that physicians use the appropriate knowledge and skills to treat their patients in the best manner possible. However, there are approaches that can be taken to reduce the occurrences of failure to treat cases. From implementing competent treatment to following a systematic approach, further patient complications can be reduced while patient care can be enhanced.

Read more about common types of medical malpractice cases here.