Medical malpractice among doctors is a serious issue nationwide. If you have been injured as a result of a serious medical mistake, you should seek legal consultation to discuss filing a medical malpractice claim against your doctor. Proving medical malpractice is not always easy and often requires the expert testimony of another health care provider, who must testify that medical negligence occurred in your case.
It is possible, however, to commit a criminal homicide based on wanton or reckless behavior. In other words, if someone acts with such disregard for the safety of others that death or serious injury is almost a given, this is often enough for certain types of criminal charges. However, doctors and other medical professionals are highly trained, very knowledgeable individuals. They are heavily regulated to prevent those with serious problems like substance abuse or mental disorders from causing harm. They are also under constant scrutiny and required to undergo continuing education to ensure that they are not engaging in techniques that could imperil a patient's life.
Do you have skeletons in your closet? Were you less than truthful about your health and/or physical condition? Are you prepared to subject yourself to hours of questioning from attorneys, both yours and likely several others? Are you prepared to make financial disclosures that will become public? When you file a lawsuit, particularly a medical malpractice lawsuit, your life becomes a very open book -- nearly everything is fair game.
Bringing a medical malpractice claim is not a thing to be taken lightly. Malpractice lawsuits are expensive, time consuming, and can open you up to public inspection. And, unlike most other types of personal injury claims, case trends show a tendency toward favoring doctors and other care providers, not injured plaintiffs. Settlement, too, is far more difficult in a malpractice case due to a doctor’s ability to refuse to settle, regardless of whether his or her insurance company wants to pay. Simply put, even the most winnable malpractice case is still an uphill battle with little or no guarantee of success. Should you sue your doctor for malpractice? Perhaps, but consider what follows before you do.
Another potential cause of action is intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is based on a doctor’s outrageous conduct that intentionally or recklessly causes a patient to suffer severe emotional distress. This must be beyond a mere slight as it must be something that would outrage society. The common law tort required a physical manifestation of injury, but most jurisdictions no longer require this element. This cause of action has been successful in some cases in which patients recorded their doctors performing medical treatment while mocking and ridiculing the patient to a serious degree.
This means that you need to find a qualified medical expert that is willing to attend a deposition and testify in court that you were injured by a health care provider’s negligence. Just who is qualified to testify as a medical expert witness is subject to a host of complicated and restrictive rules. An experienced plaintiff’s medical malpractice attorney will have a better network to draw from, but tracking down a qualified expert willing to testify on your behalf can be quite difficult, particularly if your case is a close call. Also, medical experts don’t work for free -- expect to pay a significant hourly rate. Some attorneys might front the medical expert expenses if they really think you have a winning case, but don’t count on it . . . and make sure to ask about your responsibility for litigation expenses up front.
The report by the Indiana Department of Health identified 21 surgeries on the wrong body parts and 4 wrong surgical procedures performed on patients in 2014. The problem is common enough that the federal Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations published a protocol for healthcare providers to follow that includes a “timeout process” to prevent wrong operations and wrong-site surgery. Unfortunately, a fifth of our hospitals have not adopted the protocol.
Dr Obey Nhiwatiwa, who was the doctor on call at the Walvis Bay state hospital on the day Nghinamwaami was admitted, states in papers filed with the court that he intends to testify that after certifying the death of the baby he was informed by the nurses that “the mother was fine and I proceeded to attend to other patients and duties as the doctor on call at the time”.
Other states require that you file an "affidavit of merit" (or a similarly-named document) with the court when you first begin the lawsuit. This is a sworn statement from a qualified medical expert testifying that you appear to have a valid case for medical malpractice. Once again, if you don’t provide the expert affidavit at the beginning of the case, the court will throw the lawsuit out. Depending on the state, there might be either a screening panel or an expert affidavit requirement or both or other similar requirements.