First, Do No Harm
Posted By Attorney Terry Noffsinger || 27-May-2016
Did you ever hear about the epitaph on a tombstone that read “I told you I was sick!” Was it a joke? Or was it the last request of a dying man to get his point across? Or, was it a message to his doctor?
I don’t know, but I do know how frustrating it can be to get the word out on something. People often just believe what they want to believe. “Don’t bother me with the facts,” is their attitude.
A similar experience for me has been my efforts to tell about medical malpractice. I’ve been representing injured people in medical malpractice cases for the last 20 years. During that time, I have heard hundreds of stories of medical errors and the failure of medical providers to even explain to patients and families what happened! I’ve been shocked about the attitude of the medical profession, both doctors and hospitals, about what is going on with the treatment of their patients.
For example, Indiana passed a Medical Malpractice Act in the late ’70s. This new law made suing medical professionals much harder, including limiting the amount of money an injured patient could receive, limiting the amount of attorneys fees for plaintiffs’ lawyers (but not for the defendants’ lawyers!), and imposing strict, heavy-handed requirements that must be met by plaintiffs’ lawyers before any malpractice suit can be filed.
One of these pre-suit requirements is a submission to a Medical Review Panel, three doctors who will decide if the facts of the case amount to medical malpractice. Since the beginning of this law, 81% of the panels have found no malpractice.
I am aware of some of these cases that failed to “make the grade.” As careful as I have been in reviewing cases, I still have lost some at the panel level. Experts from all over the country with ideal and impeccable credentials, physicians/faculty members from top-level universities, have been shocked when Indiana doctors on panels ruled against them, finding no medical malpractice. They questioned the system. Colleagues from other law firms have expressed the same frustration as I have: this law is a bad one, it doesn’t work, it’s unfair, and people are harmed by it. The immense lobbying by the medical profession is what got the law passed.
I suggest that far too many medical professionals don’t listen. They seem not to care.
Now, someone else is saying essentially the same thing I have been trying to get across: there’s more medical malpractice than you think. “I told you [the system] was sick!
Recently, someone important has joined my voice (and those of other trial lawyers). Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers just this month published research findings that medical error is the third biggest cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer.
There’s a lot more that I could say about this, but I won’t. I’m tired… but, I wonder. The American Heart Association raised over $780 Million Dollars last year to fight heart disease. The American Cancer Society raised even more: over $870 Million. The American Medical Association raised $261 Million in 2014. What did it do with all of that money? Maybe we need another organization (other than trial lawyers) to fight medical malpractice. Maybe it could be named the Stop American Medical Malpractice Foundation. But, like I said, I’m tired.
Do you believe that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice? Contact the proven and dedicated Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Crossen Kooi today. We are ready to provide a free case evaluation.