Malpractice

Malpractice lawyers are attorneys who represent individuals seeking compensation for the negligence of a licensed professional.  This can include doctors of all sorts (medical, chiropractic, dental, psychologists, etc.), hospitals, lawyers, accountants, and the like.

  • Medical Malpractice

A doctor or hospital can be sued for performing a procedure in a manner that is below the standard of care, for failing to order tests, missing a diagnosis, delaying treatment or other unreasonable conduct which causes injury to a patient.

Malpractice cases are almost always very hotly contested.  Doctors rarely will admit they have done wrong – and can almost always find a colleague to defend their professional judgment.  Law firms accepting malpractice cases must invest substantial time and lots of money to help prove that the care (or lack of it) caused the patient’s bad outcome.

  • Legal Malpractice

Likewise, a lawyer may commit a malpractice if he misses a deadline or otherwise breaches his professional duties – thus costing you money.  The value of the legal malpractice claim is primarily based on the value of the underlying case that was bungled.

A Few Thoughts on “Tort Reform”

Medical Malpractice Statistics

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), over 225,000 people die each year from problems caused by their health care providers. This has become the third leading cause of death in the United States, after deaths from heart disease and cancer.

  • 12,000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery
  • 7,000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals
  • 20,000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals
  • 80,000 deaths/year from infections in hospitals
  • 106,000 deaths/year from non-error, adverse effects of medication

In August, 2004 Public Citizen published a booklet called the “Medical Malpractice Briefing Book.”  The booklet is a “must read” for any citizen concerned about the issue of medical malpractice.  Among the most important facts and findings from that publication:

  • 5.4% of doctors are responsible for 56.2% of medical malpractice payoutsThere are a few rotten apples that are on a rampage at your expense.  One surgeon in West Virginia racked up 118 malpractice claims in six months, without any intervention by authorities.
  • Doctors with repeated malpractice payouts suffer few consequences.  The medical licensing boards, who should be watching out for your safety, are instead protecting their own.  It’s the “good ‘ole boy” network in full play.  The boards don’t have the courage to address the issue and revoke licenses often enough.  In the meantime, the carnage continues.
  • Caps on damages are unjust.  Here in Nevada, the law caps your “non-economic” damages (i.e., pain and suffering) at $350,000.  If you face a lifetime of suffering and agony due to a doctor’s negligence, $350,000 is all you can get for it.
  • Jury verdicts are not rising.  Malpractice payouts on behalf of doctors increased a modest 1.1% a year from 1994 to 2001 when adjusted for medical services inflation.

See http://www.citizen.org/publications/index.cfm?sectionID=101&criteria=malpractice&path_info=%2Fpublications%2Findex.cfm for some eye-opening information.