Angry patients do not always file medical malpractice lawsuits because sometimes bad things just happen. But bad medicine causes plaintiffs to file suits.
“Tort reform critics say medical malpractice lawsuits drive doctors to a place where they order tests they might not need, perform treatments that might not be necessary or even useful, all in the name of fending off a lawsuit. That makes no sense,” pointed out Charlie Donahue, a Nashua medical malpractice lawyer with offices in Keene, New Hampshire.
To be successful in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove the treatment they received from a medical health professional was below the prevailing and accepted standard of care others in the same area of practice would offer. “In other words the standard of care is defined as being what a reasonable medical health provider would do, or not do, in similar circumstances, or the same circumstances,” said Donahue.
To reach any conclusions on how to treat a patient, the health professional relies on what information there is available at the time they see the patient. They then make decisions about what tests are likely needed and what ones they likely do not have to order. If they suspect a life-threatening condition, tests to rule that out must be ordered, even if they are not certain of their suspicions.
It is the uncertainty that drives them to go that one step further, to do their best for the patient, not the fear they will be sued. If a medical professional does not order tests based on the information they have, then that conduct may fall below the usual standard of care. If the information a doctor has does not indicate a dire disease, they need to do a risk analysis to figure out what treatment or tests to order.
“Some proponents of tort reform insist that angry patients with bad outcomes sue more, because they did not get all the treatment they thought they should have received. The patients do not launch lawsuits, but bad medicine does,” says Donahue.
The fact is that medical malpractice lawsuits are time consuming and very expensive, meaning a Nashua medical malpractice lawyer does not take a case without merit. It does not matter if the client is angry or experienced a bad outcome. If there is no negligence, no medical malpractice, then there is no case and this is something an experienced Nashua medical malpractice lawyer will explain to a potential client. “Furthermore just because a treatment or procedure may have averted a bad outcome, it does not mean it should have been undertaken,” added Donahue.
The key to being successful in many medical malpractice cases is a jury believing expert medical testimony that something more needed to have been done, and that the something would have made a difference to the patient and the outcome. “In most cases, this is an uphill battle and takes a skilled attorney,” explained Donahue.
Defensive medicine as the media and politicians paint it is a frightening concept, as it implies doctors may perform meaningless procedures and tests; tests with no particular value. That is clearly unethical. “While this may happen in some instances, personally, I am of the opinion that the vast majority of medical health providers work hard and to the highest standards in their practices,” Donahue opined.
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