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Can Doctors Legally Lie to Patients?

Published on June 26, 2019

Patients trust doctors. When they go to the doctor, they believe that the diagnoses and treatments prescribed are in their best interests. Individuals also trust their doctors with sensitive and personal information. Maintaining trust and confidentiality is a health practitioner’s duty of care as required by federal law. When a health practitioner breaches his or her duty of care, it can lead to delayed treatment, improper treatment, or emotional trauma. However, doctors can legally lie in some situations.

What Is a Lie?

A doctor’s lie is different than a typical lie. A lie is an intentionally false statement, but it can differ from patient to patient. Any lie that causes harm to the patient, masks the doctor’s mistakes, covers up medical errors, or disguises fraud, however, is illegal. Lies that can or do injure patients specifically breaks the law that holds doctors to a certain standard of care.

Why Do Doctors Lie?

Doctors unmaliciously lie to their patients on a regular basis. However, these everyday lies don’t cause the patients harm. Doctors tell the same lies over and over; we’ve heard them all before. Some of the reasons for the lies that doctors tell include the following.

• Reassurance that everything is ok
• Reassurance that there will be no pain
• Increase hope for family members
• Improve spirits during difficult times

More than 55% of physicians admit they describe their patient’s condition in a more positive light. Doctors lie because, as caretakers, their role is to improve the lives of their patients. Reassuring them during some of the most difficult times of their lives counts as improving their wellbeing. This is an acceptable practice because it does not cause harm.

If a physician’s lies lead to improper medications, unnecessary treatment, additional health complications, or other injuries, this could be the basis for a medical law practice lawsuit.

Lies That May Breach a Doctor’s Duty of Care

Informed consent is the permission you provide to follow through with treatment. The information a doctor provides regarding your treatment or surgery, gives you everything you need to know to provide your consent. A court could consider any lie that affects a patient’s ability to give their informed consent a breach of duty and bring forward a medical malpractice lawsuit.

A doctor’s duty of care states that the physician must give enough information for the patient to provide informed consent. Many consider intentionally or unintentionally leaving out any information related to informed consent a lie and a breach of duty of care.

Can You Sue a Doctor for Lying?

You can sue your doctor for lying, provided certain breaches of duty of care occur. A doctor’s duty of care is to be truthful about your diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis. If a doctor has lied about any of this information, it could be proof of a medical malpractice claim. The law considers it medical negligence if a doctor fails to provide the truth for informed consent, which may also bring a battery lawsuit.

If you believe your doctor lied to you, which resulted in injury or harm, contact a personal injury attorney with specific background in medical malpractice. If you believe your doctor lied to you or did not give you enough information to give informed consent, contact a specialized Phoenix medical malpractice lawyer to help bring your claim.

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