The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) lists the three leading causes of death in the U.S. — heart disease, cancer, and medical malpractice. None of these should happen, but one is more alarming than the other two.
Dying from the errors of a healthcare professional may be one of the most ironic ways to go. But, it does happen, often enough for doctors to fork over more than $3 billion in medical malpractice payouts a year. That’s one payment every 43 minutes. It is an action no person would ever want to get into, but requires expert legal help to get out of.
Medical malpractice cases highlight stark perspective differences, as to how doctors face the lawsuits, how lawyers deal with them, and how victims no longer bother trying. There is an alarming frequency of medical malpractice fatalities, yet many erring doctors still manage to evade justice.
One thing to remember when approaching these cases is defining medical malpractice. It is when a healthcare provider deviates from the recognized “standard of care” in the treatment of a patient. Essentially, any negligent medical provider can be guilty of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice can occur across all fields of medicine. Lawyers have to deal with cases ranging from cerebral palsy after birth to accidental removal of healthy organs. Despite infractions being very common, victims tend to not file any lawsuits, and for understandable reason.
Each year in the U.S., 200,000 patients die due to errors by their healthcare provider. Despite this, only a fraction (15%) of the personal-injury lawsuits in the country are for medical malpractice, 80% of which fail to provide compensation for injured patients and their relatives. Lawyers attribute this low success rate to the cost and duration most medical malpractice cases entail. This is why most victims no longer file against their erring physicians.
As with all legal cases, proof is the plaintiff’s greatest weapon. Experienced medical malpractice attorneys will only pursue cases with documented injuries and damages. It will take an expert review of the pertinent records to establish any substance behind the lawsuit. Only then will the prosecution have a chance of receiving the rare justice medical malpractice hearings dole out.