Medical Malpractice Lawsuits … the Awards are Spiraling out of Control
There may be no other country on the face of the Earth that has juries sit in judgment over medical professionals, primarily surgeons, often other medical specialists and rule against them with financial awards that can destroy their practices. Medical Malpractice Lawsuits are on the rise as per recent observation.
Let’s face it. Medical professionals, from ordinary MDs to highly skilled surgeons, spend a significant part of their early lives in colleges or universities … then in medical schools … finally as interns in hospitals learning the life-saving profession that will serve their fellow citizens for thirty or forty years, or more.
People who choose to become highly-skilled medical professionals not only spend years and years in school, they also spend thousands and thousands of dollars acquiring their costly educations. And, while they are handsomely remunerated when they finally begin their professional lives, they do start much later than other professionals.
That means that an attorney, for example, may have practiced his or her profession for many years – and earned substantial sums of money doing so – before an MD or surgeon ever puts his shingle outside his office to announce his presence. It’s a long, difficult and costly road to becoming a medical professional. So, it seems almost unfair that once these men and women become doctors they should become vulnerable to outrageously costly Medical Malpractice Lawsuits.
That is not to say that medical professionals should be immune from Medical Malpractice Lawsuits. No … if they make a mistake it can cost a life or, at the very least, leave a patient disfigured or disabled forever. Doctors are human and, as such, they “slip up.” When it happens, the unfortunate patient has every right to become a plaintiff in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit and receive a financial award for what has happened.
However, that financial award should have some basis in reality. If a surgeon errs while operating on a patient and the result is a scar, for example, that will be with the patient for life, he or she deserves to receive some sort of award for what has happened. That person should pursue a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit. But, and this is a big but, the jury that hears the case needs to respond in a rational manner.
Too often, juries award outlandish sums of money against that destroy the doctor’s practice and cause him or her to leave the profession. That should not be the goal of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit. Nor should it be the right of a jury to award a plaintiff hundreds of millions of dollars for an operating room error that may have caused some pain and suffering or a permanent scar or a partial disability, but nothing even remotely approaching permanent disability.
A financial award is in order … but it has to make sense. When it’s too large (and that happens frequently) it impacts health insurance rates … the cost of health care … and it’s harmful to everybody. The time has come for “caps” to become legal in the case of jury awards for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits. That time is now.