Is Inadequate Follow-Up Care Medical Malpractice?


Following any sort of medical or dental treatment or procedure, it is normal practice for a doctor, dentist, or another medical professional to provide appropriate aftercare. If, following surgery or undergoing medical treatment, a patient suffers from complications, either as a result of inadequate follow-up care or because they weren’t provided with it at all, they may have grounds to make a medical malpractice claim.

What is follow-up aftercare?

Aftercare refers to the professional care that a patient receives following any sort of medical or dental treatment. For example, if you have undergone a procedure to place a dental implant, your dentist or oral surgeon should then provide you with suitable monitoring and care to check that the procedure has gone to plan and that you don’t experience any issues while you recover.

Aftercare serves several different purposes:

  • To minimize the risk of complications occurring as a result of the treatment/procedure.

  • To determine whether the treatment/procedure helped or hindered the patient's care.

  • To ensure that the patient is healing properly.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the medical professional to ensure that the patient recovers well and achieves the best possible outcome from their treatment/procedure.

It’s important to note that the standards for medical care apply to all healthcare providers irrespective of their specific role. For example, a heart surgeon, a midwife, a dentist and a psychologist are all ethically and legally obliged to provide patients with adequate and appropriate care, carried out safely and responsibly.

Examples of inadequate follow-up care

Inadequate follow-up care can take a variety of different shapes and forms, including:

  • Failure to identify/diagnose a problem following treatment/surgery

  • Failure to take appropriate action to address an issue

  • Incorrect medication dosage prescribed

  • Incorrect medication prescribed

  • Substandard treatment that causes harm, injury, or death

  • Premature discharge following treatment/surgery

Elements for a medical malpractice case

In order for a case to have a chance of being successful, patients must be able to prove four different elements:

  • The healthcare provider owed a duty of care.

  • The healthcare provider did not conform to the expected standard of care.

  • The failure to provide adequate follow-up care resulted in injury.

  • The damages that were incurred. These don’t necessarily have to just be physical but could also include loss of income due to time away from work as a result of the injury sustained and emotional distress.

You may also be able to claim for any additional expenses that were incurred as a result of the injury, such as a treatment to put the problem right and ongoing rehabilitation.

Since every patient and situation is different, claims are assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine if the claim is valid. If you would like to find out if you have a case for medical malpractice following treatment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Arizona Dental Law Group In Scottsdale, AZ at (602) 833-4200.