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Negligent Referral: What You Need to Know

Published in Medical Malpractice on October 10, 2023

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When you see a medical professional while needing specialized care, your doctor may refer you to someone who can better handle your care. These specialists that you may be referred to have the education, training, and experience to deal with specific health concerns and can provide the best level of care. However, some doctors dismiss a patient’s complaints and don’t make a referral or may make the wrong kind of referral. A negligent referral can cause additional delays in treatment and increase the risk of injury for patients. 

At Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, our team of medical malpractice lawyers have more than 45 years of experience and offer award-winning representation to victims injured in due to negligent referrals. Through trusted representation and strategic insights, we have helped clients pursue compensation after a doctor failed to refer them to a specialist or negligently referred them to a medical professional who could not properly care for their needs. Call 617-391-9001 or fill out our contact form to request a free consultation today. 

Different Types of Negligent Referrals


Primary care doctors provide many types of treatment to their patients. However, your doctor may not be the right choice to handle certain types of care. Specialists practice specialized medicine, and a number of these board-certified medical specialties require additional education, testing, training, supervision, and experience. In some cases, a doctor has a duty to refer their patients to a specialist if they know that another medical professional will be able to care for them due to their experience and training. 

When a doctor fails to make a referral or makes an incorrect referral for their patients, this negligence can result in serious injuries and losses. Depending on your unique case, a trusted medical malpractice attorney can provide you with your legal options and steps to take to get justice. 

Your Doctor Referred You to the Wrong Type of Specialist

When a primary care doctor makes an incorrect call and refers a patient to the wrong type of specialist, the results can be dangerous to the patient and potentially lead to injury. This is because negligent, wrong referrals can delay treatment and increase the risk of injury for patients. Referring a patient to the wrong type of doctor is often considered medical malpractice. If the doctor deviated from standard medical care by failing to recognize that the patient should have been referred to a different type of doctor or specialist, the patient may have grounds to file a claim. 

Your Doctor Failed to Make a Referral for You

Some doctors do not take the time and practice patience when listening to their patient’s concerns, complaints, and history of care. This may result in the doctor coming to the wrong conclusion about a patient’s diagnosis or treatment options.

If your doctor did not understand the cause of your complaint, ran out of diagnostic ideas, or simply did not have the time to properly treat you, they should have referred you to a specialist. There are many reasons a doctor will fail to make a referral. For example, a doctor may not refer a patient because they forgot, were distracted by other duties, or even left the care of the patient because their workday was over.  

When Is a Medical Referral a Cause for Negligence?

Negligence occurs when one party breaches the duty of care and causes injury or harm to another. In a medical malpractice case, the patient may be able to recover damages if their attorney can show evidence of the elements of negligence in their case. The elements of a medical malpractice claim include the following:

  • There was a doctor-patient relationship  
  • The doctor owed the patient a duty of care
  • The doctor breached the duty of care through a negligent referral
  • The breach caused the patient’s injury
  • The patient suffered losses as a result

When you work with the trusted medical malpractice lawyers at Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, we will do everything in our power to ensure you have a strong claim as you pursue the justice you are owed. You will work with skilled lawyers like Peter M. Merrigan, Attorney Merrigan is one of our co-managing partners and has been with the firm for over a decade. He has been recognized for his work helping medical malpractice clients with outlets that include 2018 Top 40 Under 40 National Trial Lawyers, 2018 Rising Star, Super Lawyers; 2019-2021 Massachusetts Super Lawyer, and more. 

Get Help With Your Negligent Referral Claim Today

At Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers, our trusted attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience helping clients who have been harmed due to a negligent referral. Our experienced legal team will fight for the compensation you deserve, ensuring your legal rights are protected throughout every step of the medical malpractice claims process. To schedule a free consultation with one of our medical malpractice lawyers, give us a call at 617-391-9001 or fill out our contact form.

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