Mutual Matters

The Challenge of Patient Noncompliance with Medical Recommendations

Posted by Hall B. Whitworth, Jr., MD on Aug 15, 2017 11:30:00 AM

MMIC_Physician_patient_discussing error.jpg

Part 1: Clinical impact, incidence, and potential causes

Noncompliance (non-adherence) to medical recommendations can have a significant impact on a patient’s overall health quality, resulting in decreased opportunities for prevention, delayed diagnosis, and incomplete or ineffective treatment. 

There may also be significant liability and financial risks to a responsible healthcare professional treating this patient, particularly as patient outcomes increasingly become connected to quality indicators and reimbursement. 

Major national economic costs, including additional healthcare expenditures and lost productivity, may also result. It has been reported that more than 40% of patients may not accurately follow medical recommendations. When treatment requires a more complex regimen, a major lifestyle change, or the patient is otherwise asymptomatic, noncompliance has been reported as high as 70%.

Reasons for noncompliance may include the patient misunderstanding instructions, forgetting, or simply ignoring recommendations. Other patients may actually make an informed decision to decline certain treatments. Common manifestations of patient noncompliance include:

  • Failure to keep follow-up appointments
  • Failure to complete recommended diagnostic testing or laboratory studies
  • Failure to comply with consultation recommendations
  • Failure to follow medication instructions and monitoring regimens
  • Failure to make behavioral and lifestyle changes (diet, weight loss, exercise, smoking, alcohol)

Several factors may influence the ability and willingness of patients to comply with medical recommendations. These may include characteristics of the individual patient, the nature and symptomatology of the condition being treated, and the specifics of the treatment regimen.

Learn more about why patients may choose not to comply with your medical recommendations by clicking below. 

Learn More

Subscribe to Email Updates

What other resources would you like us to provide?

Sharing Insight on Mutual Matters

As one of the leading mutual providers of Medical Professional Liability insurance, we're here to help all healthcare professionals with the challenges they face on a daily basis. The topics we cover include: 

  • Healthcare legislation updates
  • Patient safety guidance
  • Practice and hospital management advice
  • and more. 

Recent Posts