Preventing Accidents on our HighwaysOctober 29, 2018
The most common thing we hear from clients who come to us with a potential medical malpractice claim is they don’t want it to happen to someone else. Most folks aren’t litigious, and never before imagined filing a lawsuit. But they’ve endured a terrible experience, and they want to protect others— to spare them from going through the same thing.
Lawsuits protect patients. And patients need protecting.
According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, and highlighted by a new documentary, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 people die each year from preventable mistakes, behind only heart disease and cancer.
And that number is probably higher, because the reported data examined by the study “doesn’t capture things like communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors and poor judgment that cost lives.” The result is “a lack of public attention and a failure to invest in research.”
We touched on some of this in our July blog post on a report from Coverys, a leading medical professional liability insurance provider, which looked at diagnostic errors as a leading cause for medical malpractice claims.
Imagine the lives we’d save if the government invested a scintilla of what goes toward cancer into curbing negligence? Rather than demonizing lawyers, they could put us out of a job.
Instead, several states have passed caps on damage awards, including Wisconsin and Missouri, both of which border Illinois. Indiana is even worse.
These caps punish the most severely injured patients, while studies show they do little to reduce insurance premiums paid by doctors.
Nor does the government work to prevent bad doctors from moving to a different state, while hiding their history of harming patients elsewhere. A recent investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that “more than 250 doctors who surrendered a medical license were able to practice in another state.”
The article goes on:
“Surrendering a license is often done in the face of overwhelming evidence of unprofessional conduct. It can come after repeated surgical mishaps, churning out improper opioid prescriptions, or years of having sex with patients.
A license surrender can spare a doctor the time, expense and reputational harm that might come with formal charges and a hearing before a state medical board. Typically it comes with no restriction on practicing elsewhere.
States can take action against doctors based on license surrenders in other places. But, as with other matters in the broken world of doctor discipline, such a step is spotty. Some states don’t even search a national database of troubled physicians.
What’s more, voluntary license surrenders can mean the public gets no access to information about what happened, putting future patients at risk.”
Look, the vast majority of doctors are good at what they do, and you’ll never hear us argue otherwise. Not in court; not anywhere. But those select few whose preventable mistakes put patients at risk aren’t held accountable by the government.
For better or worse, the government isn’t in the business of patient safety.
So if you’ve been the victim of a malpractice, and want to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else, don’t call your Congressman.
At Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, medical malpractice case evaluation and litigation are longstanding, clear strengths. Our firm engages in thorough, careful pre-screening and pursues cases judged meritorious by a network of qualified physicians and other experts. If you or a loved one has been victimized by a serious medical mistake with life-changing or fatal consequences, please contact us by clicking here or fill out the contact form below for a thorough, informed evaluation of your potential legal case.