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10 Consequences of Poor Patient Care

Poor patient management can lead to reduced productivity, loss of income, and low levels of customer satisfaction. It can make your business look unprofessional and unattractive to potential patients. We unpack these topics and more in this article.

Mature woman and her doctor going through medical documents during the appointment at doctor's office

No legitimate practitioner intentionally provides poor care to their patients. It's something that tends to result as a byproduct of being too busy, not having the right resources or working with immature administrative processes.

There are a million different combinations of ingredients that may lead to a patient feeling like they've received the short end of the stick. The important thing as a practitioner is being able to quickly figure out where things are going wrong and resolve the problems. The consequences of delivering poor patient care can be expensive and dangerous.

If you're reading along, you may be in a situation where you know that one of your patients is unhappy with the treatment they've received and you're trying to get a handle on where this road leads. In this article, we've aggregated 12 consequences of poor patient care.

Doctor smiling at patient
Missed nursing care is a common example of poor patient care in the hospital system

Even though it may take a significant effort or cost to change how you treat patients, we're sure that these consequences will motivate you to take a step in the right direction.

Here are 12 consequences of poor patient care:

1. Medical errors

Medical errors are one of the most significant consequences of poor patient care. Everyone has heard horror stories of friends of friends going in for surgery and having the wrong hand or leg operated on.

These sorts of medical errors are extreme, but even for practitioners like chiropractors or physiotherapists, delivering the wrong kind of treatment can result in serious injury to patients.

These situations are also very likely to turn into difficult legal and financial battles.

young woman about to undergo surgery
Medical errors are directly tied to clinical outcomes

Medical errors tend to happen through poor communication, documentation systems that don't offer enough flexibility to capture treatment notes, or processes that don't force practitioners to follow step-by-step safety procedures.

There's no one-size-fits-all solution for medical errors. If you're wrestling with this kind of issue, then the first step is to review your standard operating procedure and ensure you have the framework to deliver high-quality care.

This doesn't just mean a checklist of how to work with patients. It extends to training of your staff, checks and balances to ensure patients have got what they came for, and a way to continually assess if you're doing a good job.

2. Unhappy patients

Poor patient care is typically going to make your patients unhappy.

There are a number of trickle-down issues of low patient satisfaction, especially for smaller providers that don't have huge networks of established patients. A few unhappy patients can quickly lead to a poor reputation, ultimately making it harder to keep work coming through the door.

Unhappy patient looking off into the distance
Missed care opportunities can lead to unhappy patients

The easiest way to catch this issue ahead of time is to survey your patients once treatment is complete. Don't leave it until they get home and can write a review on Google. Get ahead of the problem and uncover issues while they're still fresh.

3. Decreased patient safety

Patients who are not receiving the appropriate care may be at increased risk for adverse events, such as falls or infections.

This example might be on the extreme end of the spectrum, but even poor communication can lead to compromised patient safety. If your patients don't fully understand the treatment they're undergoing or what their responsibilities are, they can unintentionally put their own well-being at risk. A simple example of this situation is prescribing medication and ensuring the patient understands what they can and can't combine with their prescription.

smiling pharmacist
Systematic review of your safety procedures is necessary to ensure patients stay safe

The best way to avoid this risk is to build a culture of patient safety. As a practitioner, you make a million decisions each day. Any decision that involves patient treatment should be subject to a set of standards you determine to ensure that it is adequately safe.

4. Increased health care costs

From your patient's perspective, poor care can result in the amount of money they need to cough up for ongoing treatment. If they don't receive appropriate care the first time round, they may end up needing additional medical interventions or treatments, which can be expensive.

Poor care can also lead to longer hospital stays and increased use of health care resources.

medical paperwork
The cost of multiple healthcare services can stack up

As the saying goes, the poor man pays twice. In this case, you, as the practitioner, need to ensure your patients aren't the poor man and get what they pay for the first time round.

5. Negative impact on health outcomes

Poor patient care can lead to patient harm. Patients who do not receive the appropriate care may experience worsening of their condition or develop complications.

For example, a patient with diabetes who does not receive regular check-ups and appropriate management may be at increased risk for developing complications such as kidney disease or foot ulcers.

unhappy patient looking at doctor
Poor care can quickly lead to adverse outcomes for patients

It should go without saying, but healthcare providers are entirely responsible for ensuring patients receive the care they need to achieve the best possible health outcomes. Sometimes, this will extend beyond your speciality and require coordinating with other professionals. For example, dentists and orthodontists will need to work together to solve dental issues even though neither can fully solve the problem.

Regardless of once a patient is under your care, it's up to you to ensure they are looked after.

6. Legal and regulatory consequences

Legal and regulatory consequences are a scary topic for anyone in healthcare. Regardless of how watertight your insurance policy may be, getting caught up in a legal complication is not going to do your business or mental health any favours.

There are plenty of legal professionals that will encourage patients to take legal action if they're harmed as a result of poor care. So it's not a matter of if it will happen, but when.

medical conference
Ignoring patient well being can lead to legal complications and loss of accreditation

Going to court and fighting a lawsuit has immediate reputational consequences. It also means you're effectively taken offline when you should be at work. For the small practitioners out there, not being able to work for a few weeks is the difference between staying in business or dissolving.

Even if you don't get taken to court but your patients bring the malpractice to regulatory bodies, you can still be on the hook for large fines or loss of accreditation.

The best way to stay out of trouble here is to understand and comply with all relevant laws and regulations.

7. Damage to reputation

We've partially covered this consequence in a few of the other points, but it's worth repeating.

New customers are significantly harder to acquire than existing customers, and they're typically built off the back of referrals. Every new patient you treat as a clinic or individual practitioner brings with it a little bit more reputation, ultimately helping book up your time and keep cash flow trending in the right direction.

medical survey
Surveys can help to keep you informed about patient satisfaction

As soon as patient dissatisfaction creeps into your practice, you not only risk losing the existing customers who form the "foundation" of your revenue, it will also become much harder to bring in new patients.

Patients who have negative experiences are much more likely to jump online and share their stories with others. A good reputation can take years to build and can only take a few weeks to unravel completely.

8. Increased staff turnover

Poor patient care can be a symptom of larger cultural issues and lead to increased staff turnover.

If you're running a team of healthcare professionals, then your staff are typically on the frontline. They'll be the first ones to hear complaints from your patients when things aren't going right. If the problems are out of their hands (i.e. you don't have high-quality electric treatment tables and patients are continuously uncomfortable), they can end up becoming frustrated and ultimately looking for another job.

Good medical staff are hard to find
Good medical staff are hard to find

Losing experienced staff is a huge pain. Not only is it expensive to go out and find someone else to fill the position, but it also takes time for them to learn your processes. During that time, the standard of your patient care can suffer even further.

9. Decreased job satisfaction

If healthcare staff do stick around in situations like the one I've described above, they can simply lose interest in doing a good job.

When anyone in the health industry isn't able to do a good job and provide the care they know their patients need, it can be emotionally and professionally challenging.

This can contribute to burnout and decreased job satisfaction.

10. Impact on patient trust

Poor patient care can erode patient trust in the healthcare system. When patients do not receive the care they need or feel that their concerns are not being heard, they may become skeptical of the healthcare system as a whole and much harder to work with.

Anyone who's had the pleasure of working with a difficult patient knows that it's the pits. The job is already hard enough when patients are friendly and cooperative.

If your patients lose their trust in your ability to help them, they can become disengaged in their own care.

Why we care

As Australia's leading manufacturer of treatment tables, we work alongside a huge range of medical professionals. We hear your patient's feedback when it relates to our products, and go out of our way to focus on quality and comfort. While we're at arms reach, our mission is to give your patients the best possible experience through Australian made tables that make their visit to your practice as comfortable and safe as possible.


Poor patient care can have a wide range of negative consequences for both patients and health care providers. It is important for health care professionals to prioritise high-quality care and take steps to prevent poor patient outcomes.