While we all hope that our cancer care was handled ethically and we or our loved ones received that best care possible, there are cases that this just doesn’t happen. It becomes immediately obvious to the patients or their family that something was problematic with the care that was provided. In some cases, it manifests as a quality-of-life issue and in other cases a life may be lost as a result of suboptimal care or treatment. It becomes the cancer patients’ or their families’ right to seek legal advice on how they can get answers.
Often, we forget that cancer care doesn’t just stop and diagnosis and treatment, we also have to make sure that the care that we get or give is appropriate and is within standard of care. And if it is not, we can reach out to a medical legal team to review the case. Along these lines, it is equally important that the medical legal teams have access to cancer experts, who can further advise them on the merits of the claims. However, often it is hard to find medical experts to review cases. You may ask why this happens? First, most doctors don’t know that they can, and it is within their right, to provide expert legal opinion for medico-legal cases. Second, some experts are afraid that if they will openly participate in medical legal cases then they will get retaliation from the Institutions or doctors whom they are in practice with. Thirdly, many physicians don’t have the time to review hundreds of pages of medical records in a short time span. This provides a big dilemma for medical legal teams. However, with the boom in digital health some of these issues can be easily solved. For example, review of the cases can be done in a safe virtual setting, with embedded AI technology that can sort through patient records quickly, allows doctors to review only the most pertinent information. This saves time and cost all around. In addition, experts on digital health platforms are able to share their preference to review medico-legal cases with legal teams directly, hence privacy is maintained.
The role of physicians in general is to promote and protect human health and as such doctors and lawyers must work together to ensure that every patient receives the best care possible without any doubt.