Two incredible stories came across our desks this week with regards to medical malpractice. The first dealt with a doctor at Yale Hospital in Connecticut, who removed the wrong rib of a patient during a surgical procedure, and left metal coils inside the patient’s body. According to Medical Daily, the doctor added insult to injury by attempting to cover up the mistake.

The second story came out of Chicago, where a family settled for $30 million in damages after a doctor named “Mark Holterman performed 25 total surgeries on a child, which resulted in cerebral palsy and irreversible brain injury. The child was born in 2009 with non-life-threatening conditions, one being a leak in his esophagus, and over the course of 17 months, Holterman operated on the child 25 times.”

Stories like these make their way into our lives every single day. Victims from throughout Maryland call us to help them when their doctors have committed an act of negligence or malpractice, and now they must live with the results. Not every person who has been the victim of malpractice and calls us for help ends up losing a body part, or falls under the “care” of a deranged doctor. Many people simply want the hospital or doctor who committed the mistake to admit the error, say he or she is sorry, and pick up the tab for the unnecessary treatment. The lawyer of Deborah Craven, the patient who lost a rib, told CNN Health that “she’s suing in large part because she says she never heard these two words: ‘I’m sorry.’”

An article on points out that making money (as opposed to seeking relief from the bills) often has nothing to do with a patient’s desire to file a lawsuit. They found that:

  • “A study done between 51 New York hospitals showed that poor, Medicaid, or uninsured patients are significantly less likely to sue for malpractice.”
  • Despite the number of people who die or are injured because of preventable medical errors, only 1 in 8 victims on average file a suit.
  • The majority of adverse events – about 80% – that occur in healthcare settings are the result of human error.
  • Medical malpractice in some form is the third leading cause of death in this country.
  • Malpractice compensation and defense, along with American citizens’ costs for healthcare each year, account for only .03% of all healthcare costs.
  • Most doctors go unpunished for these errors: “Only 7.6 percent of doctors found guilty in two or more malpractice suits were punished, and only 13 percent of doctors who were guilty in five or more malpractice suits were punished.”

This information is more important than ever, as lawmakers keep pushing their agendas for “tort reform,” a popular catchphrase designed to make constituents believe that their legislators want to save them money. The only people who benefit from these so-called reforms are the insurers, doctors and other healthcare professionals. In the end, victims will suffer as they find more and more of their rights being taken away.

Here is the truth: if you have been hurt by a negligent healthcare practitioner, you have the right to seek compensation through the civil justice system. And you have the right to demand accountability in a court of law. Just because you did not lose a body part or have unnecessary surgeries does not mean your case is not important, or that you are not entitled to justice: it is and you are. If you are unsure what your rights are, Plaxen & Adler, P.A. can help. We have stood up for injury victims in Maryland for over 30 years, and we can help guide you to the right decision for you. To work with an experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyer from our firm, please contact us.