Monday, July 10, 2006

Medical Malpractice II

My opinion on Medical Malpractice (and/or negligence) suits is that only about 1% of them should ever be filed, and that there should be a cap on the amount that can be awarded.

In a case of wrongful death, I don't think a person should sue, unless they can prove without a doubt that the doctor/hospital's actions were intended to cause death. Even then, I do not believe that there should be a monetary amount rewarded to the family. Money solves nothing in the way of the family's loss or grief.

I personally would not EVER want to feel as though I'd profited from my child/ren's death, no amount of money will bring my son or daughter back, and multiple millions will not "avenge" my child's death. I have no ongoing financial need caused by their deaths, and I'm rational and sane enough to know that by winning a large cash reward, I'm causing harm to future doctors and future patients by way of driving up the cost of Malpractice Insurance - why would I want to do that?

Besides, doctors are doctors, some of them are even miracle workers (Dr Watts is a miracle worker thankyaverymuch) but they are only human. Accidents happen, things go wrong, and doctors (especially those who do what Dr Watts does) spend decades paying for the education necessary to do what they do. They offer a service, and they offer the patient a chance at life that they would not otherwise have. They can't promise a positive outcome, nor did they devote their lives to medicine in hopes that they'd someday have the opportunity to get away with murder via their career.

IF the doctor or hospital did something to intentionally cause the patient's death, the responsible party should be PUNISHED. (Don't fool yourself for a second by thinking that winning a malpractice suit punishes the doctor. The insurance pays the settlement, the doctor's insurance rates go up, and that cost is passed along to the next patients.)

In my opinion, most wrongful death malpractice suits that are filed out of the grieving family's anger (a very normal, typical, and common reaction to losing a family member.) I think that they need to "get" something from the person/people/institution that "took" their family member from them. I think it's unfair, and I definitely think that there should be some set "cooling off" period before a suit can be filed, which would give the family time to get through, or at least understand, that part of their grief.

OK, now to address the situation my friend, and her friend, are/were in. First, let me explain Cerebral Palsy. It's a brain injury which happens near the time of birth, that causes brain damage that leads to mental retardation, physical and developmental delays, feeding problems, a lack of motor and vocal skills. Sometimes, it is something the doctors did that causes it, sometimes it happens at home for no explainable reason, or can happen if the mother goes through a trauma (like a car wreck or some such thing.) Basically, most CP babies will never be able to take care of themselves, and will have life-long medical needs and will be dependent on someone else for their care for their entire lives.

If a doctor does something knowingly to cause a child to have brain damage, then they should be held responsible for the cost of care for that person's needs for the rest of their lives. In select cases, where the doctors actions were not intentional, but qualify as just plain dumb (like leaving a mother who says she hasn't felt her baby move for 12 hours, sitting in the waiting room untreated for hours, then another several hours before actually performing the emergency c-section) then I think the doctor should be held accountable, and the family should receive, from the guilty party, a reasonable amount of money with which they can care for the patient's ongoing needs.

However, again, there should be a cap. No one requires 245 MILLION dollars to survive a lifetime. The family shouldn't suddenly be wealthy, their child's special needs shouldn't be the parent's personal lottery jackpot.

I just feel like these people (doctors, nurses, and overall hospitals) dedicate themselves to helping, and shouldn't be sued for the occasional accident.

The unfortunate side-effect of being in a position to be able to save lives is that sometimes you don't, or can't - and it's wrong for people to expect perfection, or to want to extract millions of dollars from the health care system when things don't work out the way they'd hoped.

I guess what my opinion hinges on is the idea that
A) I'd profit from the death of my child
B) Other families and children would stand to suffer because of me.

Nope, I don't need that kind of Karma, I'm apparently already paying for some serious screw ups from past lives or something. Besides, I truly believe that each of us experiences the things in life that we are supposed to. We die when we're supposed to, we lose family members when we're supposed to, and nothing -not even heroic efforts of perfect doctors- will change that.

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