Doctors and lawyers don’t always have the reputation of getting along—many doctors often have concerns about malpractice on their minds—but increasingly, hospitals are enlisting the services of lawyers to make life easier for patients.
Legal and medical issues often coincide when life becomes challenging. Patients suffering from severe illnesses that result in the inability to work and expensive treatments may need advice on filing bankruptcy. Patients who are hospitalized for injuries resulting from domestic abuse often need a lawyer to make a record prior to a divorce hearing. In addition, legal experts can be useful to hospitals and patients to deal with insurance claim denials.
Programs that provide legal aid to patients are growing. Ellen Lawton, co-director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. believes these programs improve care and quality of life for patients. Currently, there are 300 healthcare centers and hospitals that have legal services programs in place, according to MedCity News. Lawton explained that an increasing number of hospitals and healthcare centers are thinking beyond the medical needs of the patient short-term/
Hospitals are taking a holistic view of patient health and the relationship does not necessarily end when the patient is released. Readmissions affect a hospital’s reputation, and patients who have to keep getting treatment again and again may cause critics to question the quality of care at the hospital. If a patient is suffering from a condition because of problems in an apartment, for instance, such as mold or lead in drinking water, the hospital and lawyer and patient can join forces on how to get at the root of the problem through legal action rather than treating the patient for the same thing.
As the baby boomers grow older and nursing home populations increase, the demand for healthcare services in such facilities will increase. End of life issues as well as estates are important concerns as people age, and it is convenient for those who live in care facilities to have access to legal advice rather than having their families manage their affairs.