Will suing a lousy doctor do any good?
January 19, 2007 9:35 AM Subscribe
Medical malpractice suits: What actually happens to an MD when they're sued? In terms of disciplinary actions against the MD, is there a difference between being found liable in civil court versus a settlement?
posted by ultraultraboomerang to Law & Government (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A couple of years ago my 6-month old sister died after heart surgery (aortic stenosis). At birth the pediatric cardiologist discovered a murmur, but wasn't alarmed as those usually clear themselves up in the first few months of life.
What became clear only after she died, pretty unexpectedly, was that the initial tests done the day she was born showed a severe defect we weren't informed of. In fact, the technician conducting the EKG circled things and made notes, which the cardiologist ignored completely. She saw the same cardiologist at 3 months but again there was no concern. At 6 months she said the baby might need surgery soon. This is when my stepmom took her to a private children's hospital, where they said "this baby needs surgery IMMEDIATELY." She survived the surgery but coded overnight. The surgeons appear to have done everything right, as far as we can tell.
Needless to say, this has been a complete nightmare. I'm trying to help my stepmom with some decisions about how to proceed legally. She places a lot of stock in my opinion, for whatever reason, so I don't want to steer her in the wrong direction.
A medical review board found the cardiologist's care to be "substandard." Now the question is whether to proceed in court. We're not talking about a crooked car mechanic here. I figure when we're talking about this level of trust - putting an infant's life in an expert's hands - we have to do what we can to get it on record that this cardiologist ignored what a technician clearly saw, and while we'll never know if it would have saved her life, the point is we deserved that information.
Is there a benefit to taking this to court? Will just being sued affect anything like the doctor's malpractice insurance, license, etc? What about a liable verdict versus a settlement? Is it better to actually go to court, in terms of what the consequences are for the doctor? I'd really like to spare my stepmom the witness stand and cross examination about why she didn't take the baby to more cardiologists (there are 2 pediatric cardiologists within 50 miles, incidentally).
What, in short, is the deal with these kinds of things?
Sorry for all the context, I don't know enough to know what's important. Thanks for any help.