In an ideal world, doctors protect patients and are willing to provide whatever is needed to make a patient whole and healthy.
In an ideal world, lawyers who represent injured patients, rely on the civil justice system to ferret out the doctors who are repeat offenders and create the greatest numbers of medical errors. Public Citizen has found that about five percent of doctors are making the bulk of medical mistakes.
When doctors and trial lawyers work together, a win-win results for patient safety.
An article in Trial Magazine points out that some doctors shirk their patient safety responsibility in favor of covering their own professional behinds from liability lawsuits.
Consider the case of a birth injury. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a mental and physical disability that results from an interruption in oxygen during birth.
An obstetrician who makes a medical error during birth that results in CP can face a medical malpractice lawsuit. To avoid liability, the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) urges a no-fault system be adopted to address neurological handicaps in children that result from birth.
The group, along with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), says that cerebral palsy is a rare event and even with a fetal monitor during labor, may not be preventable, despite a doctor’s best or worse efforts.
While there is no science that backs the ACOG criteria, this explanation takes some of the heat off of attending physicians providing a shield of immunity from liability lawsuits.
ACOG has also proposed eliminating the words “fetal distress” an accurate medical term to indicate a fetus is in a precarious condition found during a fetal monitoring. “Fetal distress” can later be used against an attending physician in court as can the word “hyperstimulation” a term that indicates there is fetal distress and perhaps brain injury from intense or prolonged labor. ACOG would like that term eliminated too, even though it serves the purpose of meaningful communication between medical professionals in an urgent situation.
In Florida, an obstetrician can opt into the no-fault system if brain damage occurs during labor or birth to avoid a liability lawsuit. This has resulted in fewer lawsuits but also many cases of CP resulting from medical errors have gone uncompensated.
In the end, that has not helped families who are already devastated by a birth injury. Ultimately, it should be up to a jury to decide each case based on its own merits. And ultimately, when the civil justice system is allowed to work as it should, it serves all of us by improving the delivery of medical care.
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If you or a loved one have suffered due to malpractice or negligence, please contact one of our Jacksonville medical malpractice attorneys immediately.