People often think of doctors as professionals working on their own terms, but those days are long gone. The vast majority of modern physicians work as employees in a professional practice, likely a large corporate practice focused on shareholder returns.
Instead of building relationships with their patients and providing a specific standard of care according to their personal preferences or sense of ethics, these doctors will instead have to perform their job to the satisfaction of their employers. Often, this means seeing dozens of patients a day and maintaining an overall patient roster of hundreds of individuals.
Long hours can compromise a doctor’s performance
Doctors often work very long days and only have a few moments to spend with each patient. Even those in specialty practices, like obstetrics, may work 12 hours shifts. Some may be subject to policies that prevent them from leaving when a patient is in active labor.
A doctor who has been at work for hours is more prone than someone freshly rested to make preventable mistakes. Is the doctor the one responsible for a poor outcome when their fatigue affects the support they provide during labor and delivery?
Birth injuries claims are often complex
Physicians facing medical malpractice claims, especially birth injury claims that could drastically increase how much they pay for malpractice insurance, are likely to do everything in their power to defend against those claims.
Raising a claim of exhaustion at work related to long shifts could in theory influence liability. Other professionals with a similar education could make similar mistakes at the end of a long shift. However, it would not necessarily protect a doctor from allegations of malpractice. After all, the doctor should acknowledge when fatigue or other factors undermine their ability to provide patient care. When they fail to do so, they deviate from best standards, which is an act of malpractice.
Their fatigue also means that their employer is liable, which might lead to a claim against the medical corporation or hospital. Such claims cannot only be more beneficial for the patient because the facility may have a larger insurance policy, but they can also protect others in the future. When medical facilities lose large amounts of money due to successful malpractice claims, that facility and others like it may start to reevaluate the approach used in certain cases.
Understanding who may ultimately be liable can help you more effectively pursue a medical malpractice claim following a tragic birth injury.