Medical malpractice cases are more prevalent than most people would care to know. According to the Institute of Medicine, nearly 100,000 patients die each year because of medical malpractice. Another 1.5 million are injured as a result of a medical professional’s negligence.
If you are injured, or your health is compromised by a medical professional’s negligence, your case may qualify as medical malpractice, and you may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical expenses, time off work, future medical costs, pain and suffering, and more. An experienced medical malpractice lawyers should review your case to see if it meets the legal requirements for medical malpractice.
Do medical malpractice (tort) actions prevent or encourage Medical Errors?
Well, it depends who you ask… Most medical malpractice lawyers and plaintiffs would say that medical tort actions serve two purposes:
- Provide a deterrent and an additional safeguard against medical mistakes; and
- Compensate the victim.
Thus, attorneys and plaintiffs alike would agree that medical tort actions serve to prevent medical errors. However, Doctors constantly argue the opposite. When asked the question, most doctors would state that these actions:
- Drive up the cost of medical care;
- Have created mounds of needless paperwork;
- Cause the Doctor to focus on potential liability rather than upon the patient. Thus, they require Doctors to “Cover Themselves” by ordering numerous expensive tests with low probability yield and more specialist evaluations. This leads to more time spent by Doctors and patients and lower diagnostic efficiency.
- Often inappropriately exclude the concept that Doctors are human, and that even in the best of circumstances, medical malpractice cases and negative outcomes can occur, but should not be the basis for liability if proper care was delivered.
Cover all the possibilities
Good doctors realize the consequences of medical error and therefore, “cover all the possibilities” and make sure that “no stone is unturned” in their approach to patient care. They may ask all the right questions, perform all the right tests, ensure that they receive and properly interpret all results, coordinate care with other health professionals, consider all the possible diagnoses, and weigh all the risks versus all the benefits. Given this, they prescribe what they believe to be the best possible treatment.
However, as in all aspects of life, some things may be beyond control. “It happens” sometimes, despite best efforts. These unfortunate outcomes often cannot be termed errors at all. Nothing was done wrong, but the expected outcome was negative, perhaps disastrous, instead of positive. More details here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2013/05/16/10-things-you-want-to-know-about-medical-malpractice/#2aa0504a2323
Sometimes in 20-20 hindsight, another approach looks like it would not have led to the same negative consequences and the concept of error and even malpractice is introduced by patient, another physician, attorney, etc.. However, if the physician acted as described above and according to acceptable practice in his community, despite the outcome, there may or may not be error, but there is no malpractice.
The bottom line is that there are always “Two Sides To The Story” and the US legal system has its advantages and disadvantages. We invite you to discuss this dichotomy and give us your thoughts and experiences. We welcome patients and all professionals, health care providers and l best medical malpractice lawyers alike, and offer the opportunity to post blogs and messages and share information with others regarding the occurrence and prevention of medical errors.