Intentional Torts During Medical Assistant Job

Malpractice insurance does not cover intentional torts. An intentional tort is considered gross negligence, a form of negligence that involves an intentional act or failure to act that causes harm. Harm done to a patient by a physician or an agent that is determined intentional results in a monetary award, or damages, paid to the patient and can also result in criminal charges filed against the physician, agent, or both.
Intentional torts include:

1) Assault -- An assault is a threat or perceived threat of bodily harm to another person. An assault can involve hitting and punching or just threatening to hurt another person. This situation is easily avoided by maintaining professional decorum.
2) Battery -- Battery involves touching someone in a socially inappropriate way without her permission. The prudent medical assistant must obtain consent before touching a patient.
3) Defamation -- To cause harm to a person's reputation by providing false information in writing (libel) or by spoken word (slander) is considered a crime. The medical assistant must be careful not to talk about a physician, colleague, or patient in an unprofessional manner. If a physician's practice suffers a loss of patients due to slander, a lawsuit for defamation can be brought against the medical assistant or her employer. Writing derogatory comments in a patient's chart can be considered libel, so care should be used in describing a patient's demeanor. Gossiping about a patient can be considered slander and the patient can bring a lawsuit against the medical office. Disclosing or discussing a patient's sexual history, human immunodeficiency virus status, or drug treatment history could compromise his job, marriage, and mental health. The patient may also feel that the staff is not attentive to his needs and that the gossiping created an atmosphere in which he received substandard care.
4) False imprisonment -- Holding a patient against her will is considered false imprisonment. Hospital patients are not required to stay for treatment and are always free to leave. Forcing a patient to stay in the hospital is an imprisonment that, without due process of law, is illegal (or false). An inpatient should always be able to leave the hospital, even if it is against the recommendation of her physician. In such a situation, a patient is allowed to sign out of the hospital against medical advice (AMA). The patient indicates that she is aware that she is AMA by signing a document in which she acknowledges that the physician does not recommend that she leave the hospital but that she has decided to disregard the physician's advice.
5) Fraud -- Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of facts for financial gain. For example, charging an insurance company for services not performed or changing dates of service to accommodate eligibility of benefits is fraud.
6) Invasion of privacy -- The public release of a patient's information without his consent is considered an invasion of the patient's privacy. If a practice wants to use pictures of a patient for an office brochure or advertisement, the office must obtain the patient's consent to use the photo. Without the patient's consent, a physician's office cannot release medical information. For example, if a physician treats a celebrity, no personal medical information can be released to the media without consent.