Doctors are respected professionals in society, and most people look up to them and trust them without thinking twice. People assume doctors are always honest, trustworthy and reliable.
Physicians owe a duty to their patients to respect their rights, uphold standards of professionalism and conduct themselves lawfully. The first national code of medical ethics was created to set ethical standards for doctors, which include doing the right thing, admitting mistakes and protecting the rights of injured people.
Unfortunately, you cannot always rely on your doctor to tell the truth, because not every doctor holds themselves to the abovementioned standards. While it would be wonderful for every medical professional to behave this way, doctors are humans, too, and they falter. Sadly, it happens more often than you think.
Why would a doctor lie to a patient or attorney?
It is essential to understand some of the the underlying causes of why a doctor would lie to a patient so you can be informed and aware of these common reasons. When interacting with your doctor, look out for lies and advocate for yourself.
- Physicians are often under immense pressure and strongly bond with other doctors. No one wants to admit a mistake and risk losing their medical license or being reprimanded by the medical board, so a doctor may hide an error of their own or of another doctor.
- Doctors are often afraid of lawyers and take anything related to medical malpractice as a threat. As a result, sometimes, they do not tell the truth to attorneys inquiring about a medical malpractice case.
- Medical professionals also owe a duty to their employers. Many doctors sign documents committing to keeping information confidential and letting the legal department at the hospital deal with external attorneys in medical malpractice cases. In this case, a doctor may lie because they are loyal to their employer.
What are the consequences of lying?
Instead of fearing the legal system, doctors should know that it is much better to collaborate and tell the truth than to lie. Lying under oath is an extremely serious legal offense, and lying to a patient or at any point during a medical malpractice investigation can harm the doctor and the hospital, risking their licenses and reputation.
Mistakes happen, and while it is critical for doctors to be competent and professional at all times, courts know the pressure that doctors are under. Lying to patients or anyone else is never a wise move. Attorneys are not doctors’ enemies; it is always in a doctor’s best interests to be forthcoming.