October 17, 2011

In preparing some of our recent blog articles involving some U.S. boards of medicine/medical boards and the state laws affecting the boards’ performance, their work, and their disciplinary and medical malpractice reporting requirements, it has become clear that one major motivating factor for doctors aggressively fighting valid medical malpractice claims against them is the fact that they provided bad medical care becomes publicly and widely available and may affect their professional standing with their medical colleagues, their standing in their local communities, and the level of their medical competence in the eyes of their current and future patients.

Despite the old adage that “bad publicity is better than no publicity at all” that may be true for actors and entertainers, bad publicity is not good for the business interests of bad medical care providers. Who in their right mind would allow a doctor to treat him/her for a serious or life-threatening medical condition knowing that the doctor has a history of paid medical malpractice claims? When it comes to our own health and the health of our family members, we are not in the position to gamble our well-being on questionable medical expertise or medical technique, especially when there are other available, qualified doctors to treat us who do not carry the baggage of paid medical malpractice claims.

Even if the paid medical malpractice claims against the doctor were from years ago, involved medical procedures unrelated to the treatment we need now, or seem to be plausibly explained away by the doctor whose malpractice insurance company paid the medical malpractice claims against the doctor on his behalf, why take the chance? Unlike a restaurant that may have gotten a bad review months ago but that you are willing to give a chance for a good meal now, the potential risks and long-term and painful consequences of bad medical care may be too substantial to take the chance on a doctor who has been proven to have provided negligent medical care in the past (based on medical malpractice claims paid in the past).

While we have been taught since grade school and by religious leaders that we should forgive past transgressions by others against us and not judge people solely on mistakes they made in the past, such teachings run counter to our strong desire for self-preservation and the protection of our families. Doctors know this — they are well-aware that even if they know they were at fault for causing their patients to suffer serious injuries or death as a result of their unintentional but nevertheless negligent medical mistakes or medical errors in diagnosis or treatment, they will not publicly acknowledge their mistakes but rather fight the valid claims against them for their own personal, financial, and self-interested survival. We must consider and understand that bad doctors will fight aggressively and sometimes dishonestly for their own survival by refusing to admit their mistakes and the harms that their substandard care caused and by blaming the innocent victims of their bad medical care for the injuries they sustained.

We must remove our doctors from the pedestals that some of us have placed them on (and which they happily occupy — who doesn’t get seduced by praise?) and place our doctors on an equal footing with the rest of us. When we do bad things and other people suffer as a result, we are held responsible for our bad acts. Doctors must be held to the same level of scrutiny and accountability as the rest of us. When negligent medical care causes someone to be injured, the injured person needs to be adequately compensated for his/her losses by or on behalf of the negligent medical care provider. Because the negligence of doctors is capable of causing much worse and longer-lasting suffering than ordinary negligence by the rest of us, laws such as so-called “medical malpractice reforms” should not limit negligent doctors from their full legal and ethical responsibility for the harms they carelessly cause.

If you, a family member, or a close family friend have suffered serious, permanent, or fatal injuries as a result of medical malpractice, you have certain legal rights in your state to be compensated for the results of bad medical care. Visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to assist you with a medical malpractice claim or call us toll free at 800-295-3959.

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