June 23, 2013

162017_132140396847214_292624_nOne of the most memorable of all of the Presidential Inaugural Addresses is from President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address that was broadcast on March 4, 1933, when the Great Depression had reached its greatest depth, at which time President-elect Roosevelt pronounced the biggest challenge facing our nation: “Our greatest primary task is to put people to work.”

The most memorable quote from President Roosevelt’s 1933 Inaugural Address was “… let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself …” President Roosevelt realized that fear can paralyze a nation – at a time when our nation was facing so many problems that seemed insurmountable, it was President Roosevelt who was spurring the country out of inaction and dispelling a collective spectre of doom.

Now, 80 years later, we face a similar crisis, but this time it is with regard to the important right granted to each of us to seek and obtain redress for wrongs we suffer as a result of the negligence of others. In particular, a well-financed but misguided effort by the powerful and wealthy healthcare industry over the past two decades in many U.S. states has resulted in so-called “tort reforms” being implemented that have placed arbitrary and harmful caps (limits) on the amount of non-economic damages (pain, suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement) that innocent victims of medical malpractice may recover from medical malpractice wrongdoers.

Medical malpractice victims in those states that have implemented medical malpractice tort reforms have been harmed twice: first, by their careless healthcare providers and then by their state laws that prevent them from being fully compensated for their losses.

Instead of identifying, addressing, and solving the causes of medical malpractice, such as poorly trained medical providers, medical errors, medical mistakes, failures to follow policies and procedures designed to eliminate medical mistakes, etc., the healthcare industry in the United States instead has focused on the other side of the medical malpractice equation: medical malpractice victims – those who suffer harms at the hands of medically negligent health care providers.

The healthcare industry’s efforts aimed at medical malpractice tort reform remind us of the case from several years ago when a morbidly obese man sued fast-food purveyor, McDonald’s, for selling him unhealthy high-fat foods in quantities that were well-above the recommended serving size, over the period of many years. Instead of accepting full responsibility for his own actions that were the cause of his obesity, he sought to place blame on another that had no control over his eating habits.

Isn’t that what the healthcare industry in the United States has been doing with regard to medical malpractice? The health care providers who commit medical malpractice are exclusively and solely in control of their actions and omissions and they can avoid harming their patients by simply providing that level of care and treatment that their medical peers have established as the standard of care under the circumstances. By attacking the victims of medical malpractice by preventing them from being fully compensated for their losses due to medical malpractice, the healthcare industry is like the obese man, trying to deflect accepting full responsibility for its own shortcomings.

Nonetheless, until each and every one of us stands up to and opposes the efforts of the healthcare industry to implant the fear into the minds of our citizens that fully and fairly compensating medical malpractice victims for their actual injuries and harms will cause the rest of us to be harmed (such as doctors leaving their medical practices because of their irrational fear of medical malpractice lawsuits leading to the unavailability of medical services), we will blindly accept this fear that harms our families and neighbors.

We do have a legitimate fear, though – a fear that people will not wake up to the erosion of their right to be made whole when others cause them permanent and severe injuries due to medical malpractice. Once tort reform measures eviscerate our right to hold medically negligent doctors fully responsible for their actions and omissions that injure their patients, our fear will be realized.

If you or a family member are the victim of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney in your state before it may be too late.

Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may agree to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.

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