Physicians liable for malpractice even when treatment is indirect, rules Minnesota Supreme Court

A new court ruling in Minnesota seeks to clarify the legal boundaries of the patient-physician relationship, the Star Tribune reports.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that physicians are liable for malpractice whenever they make formal medical decisions that affect a patient, even if they don't have a direct relationship to the patient, according to the report. The decision affects only formal medical decisions, not informal advice.

The result of this opinion could have a significant effect on medical decision-making, potentially increasing lawsuits and malpractice insurance premiums, according to the report.

The decision stems from a lawsuit brought by a patient's family in 2016. The patient died of sepsis three days after visiting Essentia Health Clinic in Hibbing, Minn., for various symptoms, including abdominal pain, fever and chills. A nurse practitioner at the clinic called a hospitalist at Hibbing-based Fairview Range Medical Center, seeking to admit the patient to the hospital. However, the physician decided not to authorize an admission. The physician never saw the patient in person, according to the report.

The case was dismissed by the lower courts because the hospitalist did not directly care for the patient, according to the report.

Read more here.


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