Simply stated, medical malpractice gets a lot of attention from the media and a push back from medical organizations and independent medical practices. Presumably large wealthy pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest too in that doctors and hospitals represent their customer base. So the public faces many foes in trying to be protected.
Hardly a day goes by without a politician or someone in the medical field advising the public that medical malpractice lawsuits threaten the very health of the public itself. But, what should happen when a patient is injured or dies because of a medical mistake or accident. Does anyone recall the case in Florida where the wrong limb was amputated?
Our family experienced the cold side of medicine when a procedure known as gastroplasty was botched. Instead of a controlled condition being created for an obese relative the stomach stapling device was never inserted because a careless surgeon nicked the patient’s spleen. The just before noon accident by a famous surgeon saw a medical team missing lunch and scrambling into mid afternoon trying to save a life rather than complete literally a fifteen minute job.
The other side of negative propaganda about how harmful medical malpractice suits are and what doctor’s pay for private malpractice insurance, requires us to look at needless pain and suffering. Of course, only an air traffic controller must have a 100% standard. Everyone accepts that even one plane crash caused by negligence on the part of the tower operators is unacceptable. But, is it unfair to expect hospital staff and doctors to use every conceivable way to avoid operating on the wrong limb?
Yes, there is the famous Shakespeare quote about lawyers which is a little drastic to say the least and more than a little tongue in cheek. Anyone who has ever been in a court of law as a plaintiff, defendant or expert witness knows it is a contrived atmosphere where only fools don’t fear to tread. Nothing is normal for the average person there. For instance, I was once asked in court how people lined up at Customs for inspection. Having a background in that field I answered, “Helter-skelter.” This was correct and the term is listed in most dictionaries. However, this judge had been involved on the periphery of the famous Manson case. Helter-skelter was used by those insane people to describe their mission. Thus, the judge was verbally abusive over the use of the term.
Settlements in medical malpractice suits usually aren’t anywhere near those attributed to such star lawyers as former presidential candidate John Edwards. Reportedly worth more than fifty million dollars, his cases were extreme and perhaps involved the deaths or cessation of some mental or vital body function.
Still how does the world stay straight without an avenue of redress for those who have been wronged even by a highly trained doctor? Ordinary people must continue to hire lawyers and go to court or there is no check and balance with the medical side.