Monday, July 10, 2006

Medical Malpractice

Everyone wants to sue some body for some thing. This is especially true when it comes to the medical community. Medical malpractice has been the subject of several conversations I've been part of lately.

In one of the Yahoo grief support groups I belong to, someone asked if anyone else had considered suing the doctors and hospitals where their children were treated and died. That ballooned into a flurry of back and forth posts, which revealed that 2 parents there had sued and won, one parent had attempted to sue, but lawyers told her that she had no case.

Then there is my best friend. She has a daughter with Cerebral Palsy, and she has another friend who has a son with CP. They each felt that their doctors were to blame for their child's brain injury and subsequent life-long special needs. She was told that her case wasn't provable, her friend just settled her case for an undisclosed amount.

The conversations have had me thinking about medical malpractice/negligence suits. I know what I think, but what do you think?


  1. I think that there are cases where malpractice was a factor in the poor outcome of a case, and then I think that there are a LOT of people who just simply cannot accept that someone did their best/all that they could and things still didn't go well. I think they use malpractice suits like band-aids or to try and compensate for some wrong that is ultimately no one's fault.
    And then there are the even greater number of people who sue others simply for the lucrative benefit of doing so. I mean, a lot of times doctors, or their insurance companies, will pay out on a case rather than litigate it, and that makes it fairly easy.

    Regardless of the reason why people choose to sue doctors and hospitals, there should be tighter restrictions on malpractice law. I mean, they're doctors, not gods. Yes, they have a duty to act without negligence, but sometimes bad things just happen to good people, despite anyone's efforts.

    And as an aside, if there were tighter restrictions on malpractice lawsuits, our medical costs would be significantly lowered because doctors wouldn't have to pay so much for insurance coverage.

    With all that said, I still think that there are plenty of reasons that people should sue their doctors. For example, one of Wil's elderly patients was treated for 11 months for pneumonia because an x-ray showed a spot on her lung. Well, after 11 months (11!) of antibiotic treatment that didn't alleviate symptoms, they (finally) did further testing. Turns out she has lung cancer that has now spread to the point that treatment is useless. Not the doctor's fault she has cancer, but if after, say, two rounds of antibiotics, the patient hadn't improved, why didn't he suspect something more and order tests then? I may not have saved her life, but it could have added years had they caught it in time to start chemo or radiation.

    Ok, ramble over. I feel for everyone who has lost a loved one, or had a loved one's life altered through medical complications, but it doesn't always mean that someone is directly responsible for it. Perhaps we should start suing God?

  2. I agree. The more doctors get sued by sue-happy peole, the fewer doctors will continue to practice, the malpractice fees will go up, and the patients will pay more and more. Here in UT many doctors who used to deliver babies will no longer do so, in fear of lawsuits. Angela is right. Most doctors do the best they can, and they are not gods.

  3. Anonymous6:23 PM

    I believe that if you are going to have to trust a professional to look after your interests, and have to choose between a lawyer or a doctor, I would trust a doctor every time. Punishing genuine mistakes (if any) doesn't help anyone in the long run, apart from the lawyers.


  4. Bad things happen. It would be nice to be able to blame someone, but in most cases, is genetics, bad luck, the fact that you once spit on an ancient Indian burial ground, etc. Yes, doctors do screw up at times, but..well, so do we all. If they are at fault, blame them. Most times, they are not.
    But if you do end up rich, I would love a Mercedes.

  5. I'm glad you guys agree with me. I honestly think that in most cases, it's selfish and greedy. Of course there are exceptions, and times when the patient deserves some sort of monetary reward, but I think that's rarely true.

    D, I'm not suing anyone, ever, if I can help it. But if I ever get rich, you'll definitely get a Mercedes!

  6. I agree with everything you wrote in both posts. TOO MANY lawsuits going around these days and ultimately the consumer pays for it. My oral surgeon suggested I sue my endodontist for malpractice & offered me my tooth as evidence. Long story short, I didn't sue, not even for a guarranteed win. Five years later the endodontist ended up in court on sexual harassment charges. I found no joy in that, either.

    I was so glad Sarah popped over to donate! Nice to see the thermometer climbing again, & I'll get my book money out this week, I promise!