Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against your doctor, or any doctor for that matter may seem like an unscrupulous thing to do. The fact is, most people do not want to sue the people who are charged with taking care of us when we’re ill or injured because it doesn’t seem like an ethical thing to do.
The problem is, it is the only way in our legal system a patient injured by malpractice can get some compensation for the damages inflicted on them. Filing a malpractice suit is the only way a patient can be “made whole”; That is to say, demand compensation to cover all the costs, both real economic costs and non-economic costs, past, present and future.
What is the Purpose of a Medical Malpractice Suit?
There are two fundamental purposes for pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor, dentist, nurse and or hospital. First and foremost is to seek compensation for the injured patient. The second function of a malpractice suit is to provide a civil means of preventing further malpractice by the same medical professional(s).
Recover Money for the Patient
The first goal of a medical malpractice lawsuit is to get money for the patient to cover the overwhelming costs associated with an injury resulting from medical negligence. It may seem ludicrous to attempt to make up for an injury, loss of health or even death by forcing someone to pay cash for it, but it is the only way our legal system allows those injured to recover for the suffering.
The money recovered by victims of medical malpractice and their families will ease the burden of long-term medical care costs, current medical bills, lost income due to an inability to work, lost future earnings due to a families diminished earning power, pain, suffering and all other monetary and non-monetary costs.
Help Prevent Future Instances of Malpractice
The second aim of medical malpractice lawsuits and medical malpractice tort law is to establish some type of punitive consequences for medical malpractice. While many cases of medical malpractice will not involve punitive damages, the very fact that a doctor is being held liable for his or her actions should help prevent future patients from suffering the same fate.
What Happens to the Doctor?
In the vast majority of medical malpractice cases, the doctor being sued will continue to practice medicine, and his medical malpractice insurance company will be defending the lawsuit. A lawsuit has no effect on the doctors license to practice medicine, and he or she will not be severely impacted by the lawsuit.
However, in some extreme cases the medical license may be revoked. This only happens in rare cases where, through the discovery period of the lawsuit, it is found that the doctor is a threat to the health of his or her patients. In these cases, the health department may investigate further and revoke the medical license to prevent any potential injury to future patients. This is a rare case, but does provide future patients protection from potentially grossly negligent medical treatment.
Can You Sue the Hospital for Negligence?
In some cases, patients are caused injury not due to the negligent treatment of one doctor, but rather, faulty treatment by several members of hospital staff or the hospital administration. It is possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital if the negligence is shown to be a series of mistakes made during admittance, treatment, recovery and or discharge.
This can happen from time to time in busy hospitals and especially emergency rooms where patients are not treated with a level of care that should be reasonably expected in such a situation.
Sometimes it is a complete lack of treatment, or a delay that caused injury or even death to the patient. Everyone has sat waiting in waiting room, and often the chaos of an emergency room situation can leave a patient without proper timely care.
In these types of situations, the patient and/or family members can file a lawsuit holding the hospital itself liable for the damages they have suffered. Accordingly, the hospital is covered by a medical malpractice insurance company.