Medical Liability Issues in Dealing with Critical Care Patients in the End-of-Life Situation

  • Robert A. Fink

As with almost all issues of medical liability, it is communication that is the critical factor in determining whether something a medical professional does or omits doing will result in a medical malpractice action. While good communication between physician and other health professionals and patients/families will not guarantee a total absence of lawsuits, poor communication, especially if associated with a less-than-optimal case outcome, will almost assuredly bring the workings of the medical tort system upon one's head. Such communication involves not only that between the physician and patient (if the critical care patient is mentally competent), but also between all involved health professionals and the extended family of the patient, including not only relatives, but, in some cases, friends and other significant others. Just think of the long-lost relative who, in a preterminal situation, arrives and, by external influence, upsets the proverbial applecart of rapport between health professionals and patient/family, and converts a calm and sensitive situation into sheer chaos — and possibly, a visit to the attorney's office.


Critical Care Patient Malpractice Suit Medical Negligence Medical Liability Critical Care Area 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Fink
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinical Professor, Department of Neurological SurgeryUniversity of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA

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