The Medical Malpractice Epidemic: Does Your Doctor Have a Hand in It?

Have you or a loved one been an unfortunate victim of medical malpractice?

Before making an appointment or stepping into your doctor’s office, do you have a general understanding of who your doctor is and his or her true intentions?

As a patient, you should have a general understanding of who your doctors are.  Patients expect that they are getting the best care possible from their doctors.  According to an article entitled, “Thousands of Mistakes Made in Surgery Every Year,” by Jennifer Warner, “more than 4,000 preventable mistakes occur in surgery every year at a cost of more than $1.3 billion in medical malpractice….”  

Doctors are viewed as medical geniuses, but in actuality, they are prone to making mistakes just like any other human being.  When it comes to the medical malpractice epidemic, some physicians may not play the part of a doctor; instead, they take on the role of a scammer.  That would mean that some doctors look for every opportunity to obtain money from insurance companies to fill their pockets, which may lead to some patients not getting the best form of medical treatment they need and deserve.  Looking deeper at the issue, Frederick Adolf Paola, MD, JD, states: “at a glance, the estimated total costs of medical errors approach $29 billion per year….” People do die from these errors.   Paola’s article also states that “…According to a 2000 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), as many as 98,000 hospitalized patients die each year as a result of medical errors.”

In an article for CBS News, “Does Your Doctor Have Ties to Big Pharma? How You’ll Be Able to Find Out,”  Amanda Cochran wrote, “big pharma routinely pays doctors to promote its products.…” This suggests that the medical field can be a big, fast-paced industry or even a well-oiled machine. An article published on ProPublica also tackled the issue of whether or not doctors get paid big money just to promote products. Charles Ornstein, Mike Tigas, and Ryann Grochowski Jones wrote: “[Our] analysis has found for the first time that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed tend to prescribe drugs differently than colleagues who don’t.”  The co-authors pointed out that “…the more money they receive, on average, the more brand-named medications they prescribe.…” They added: “We matched records on payments from pharmaceutical and medical device makers in 2014, with corresponding data on doctors’ medication choices in Medicare’s prescription drug program.” Basically, patients have to be vigilant about their health and research the best methods to cure themselves because some doctors may have a hidden agenda.

Have you or a loved one been an unfortunate victim of medical malpractice? How do you know? Well, there are various ways that it can occur and if you look out for signs, you can keep your doctor in check at all times. Here are some ideas: “A wide variety of situations can lead to a medical malpractice claim–from a doctor leaving a sponge in a patient’s stomach during an operation, to failing to tell a patient that a prescribed drug might cause heart failure.…”  There are specific categories for most malpractice cases to fit in. The categories as listed on Nolo.com include: “Failure to diagnose, improper treatment, failure to warn a patient of known risks….” The website also provides some insight into some special requirements in medical malpractice cases.

When it comes to medical malpractice, there are special rules and certain procedures that many states follow. First, medical malpractice cases must be brought soon after the injury.  Given this, “in most states, you must bring a medical malpractice claim fairly quickly–often between six months and two years, depending on the state.” Another requirement is the special medical malpractice review panel. This requirement calls for many patients to “…first submit the claim to a malpractice review panel. This panel of experts will hear arguments, review evidence and expert testimony, and then decide whether malpractice has occurred….” After the special medical malpractice review panels, there are special notice requirements.  When it comes to this aspect, “some states require that the patient gives the doctor notice of the malpractice claim, in the form of a basic description, before filing anything.” There is also a requirement for expert testimony. According to the website, “Expert opinions are often a crucial feature of the patient’s case. A qualified expert is usually required at trial.…”

An example of a medical malpractice case can be found here.  According to the website, “in 2001, USA Today reported one of the more well-known cases of medical malpractice happened to Saturday Night Live alumni, Dana Carvey….”  Continuing, the article reveals that “…roughly two months after the double bypass operation that was supposed to preserve his life, Mr. Carvey received the news that the surgeon had bypassed one of the wrong arteries….”  In this instance, the Saturday Night Live alumni’s surgeon admitted that it was an honest mistake.  Honest mistake or not, a patient puts their life in a doctor’s hands. Carvey didn’t accept that his doctor made an “honest mistake”; instead, “Dana Carvey felt quite differently, and subsequently, he filed a $7.5 million lawsuit against the surgeon and the hospital.”

Once again, it circles back to whether or not you can trust your doctor.  As a patient, you need to do your due diligence and check the credentials of your doctors. As stated by Jennifer Warren, “although most doctors are qualified and do their jobs to the best of their abilities, nearly 3,000 doctors in the U.S. are disciplined each year by state medical boards for offenses.  Medical offenses can include actions like incompetence, sexual misconduct, and breaking criminal laws.”

To ensure that the medical malpractice epidemic doesn’t impact you or anyone you care about, keep a very close eye on your doctors.  If you or someone you know has been affected by a medical procedure, contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

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