There has been a great deal of speculation regarding how the Obamacare health insurance plan (aka The Affordable Care Act) will impact the personal injury law field. Some fear that it will make it more difficult for victims to get the financial damages that they deserve and need after a negligent healthcare provider causes them harm. Others believe that it will increase the number of cases of medical malpractice. The answer to the specifics of how Obamacare impacts medical malpractice claims cannot be entirely known until the system is in place, but in the meantime, it does not hurt to consider how and why there are concerns in this field.
Will The Number of Cases Increase? Many feel that the answer to this question in St. Petersburg and throughout the country is a resounding yes. With more people able to afford the healthcare that they may have needed but had been unable to pay for, doctors will be overloaded and potentially be more apt to make mistakes. Perhaps that is the case.
The opposition, however, argues that patients will not hold out so long before seeking the attention of a doctor and that will provide those medical professionals more time to make accurate diagnoses. If that is the case, then perhaps the number of lawsuits will fall.
The Correlation Between Overcrowding and Mistakes. There still remains the concern regarding overcrowded waiting rooms leading to increased anxiety, professional exhaustion, and a decreased ability to provide the proper care to each individual patient.
There are some that speculate that Obamacare will not increase the number of patients, but simply improve their ability to avoid medical care. They further argue that these people are already seeking medical attention, but that they are doing so at emergency rooms and walk-in clinics, where prices are more reasonable. With more affordable insurance, this new system could potentially spread the patients out, more evenly, among the Saint Petersburg medical facilities. Therefore Obamacare impact medical malpractice claims both positively and negatively.
Even if that is the case, doctors’ offices will still, very likely, have to contend with an influx of patients that they have not had to deal with previously. Yes, these newly-insured patients have probably relied on the medical system before, to some extent, but likely not as much as they could have had they had the financial resources to do so. No matter how one looks at it, there is a definite possibility that there will be an increased demand in the medical community and that will, undoubtedly, put increased pressure on existing physicians.
How Can Medical Facilities Prepare? The majority of cases involving medical malpractice that personal injury attorneys hear are due to the staff being overworked and mentally taxed or undertrained. If the expectation that doctors will be inundated with more patients than ever before holds true, there will be more reason than ever for those offices to be well-staffed and continually educated, which could lead to more jobs. Should those two efforts be made, the chances of a medical malpractice case being formed around that practice will remain low.
What Will That Mean for Patients? It may be necessary for patients to be extra vigilant in the months and years following the roll-out of the Obamacare plan. Seeking highly qualified doctors in well-managed offices is a good place to start. If the waiting room is consistently packed and one is waiting for exorbitant amounts of time, but seeing the doctor for only a few moments, then there is likely reason to consider a change of physicians. Additionally, patients shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or to demand a second opinion when a diagnosis doesn’t seem to add up. Finally, if there is any suspicion that medical malpractice is to blame for a failed surgery, untimely death, or debilitating drug interaction, it is always wise to seek legal representation.