Doctor screwed up, now what?
October 25, 2007 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Mom had double knee replacement. Doctor admitted doing one wrong. Her leg is now crooked. Options?

My Mom just got a double knee replacement this summer. She still works (teacher). She was off her legs for about 3 months.

One of her legs juts out at an angle (it is noticeable). She just saw a doctor and he admitted he cut it wrong. He's directed her to get another opinion. She's not in great pain, but does have some discomfort.

Obviously she needs to get it fixed. The fix could entail another operation and extensive rehab- maybe missed work.

My question is what are the legal options and what is the time line? Although the doctor admitted to her he screwed up, I assume that ultimately the insurance company determines if it needs to get fixed and who pays.

Do we get a second opinion, then approach a lawyer. Do we get a couple of opinions? Or is it better to forgo the lawyer and see what the insurance company says?

The doctor was strait up with her, but I fear she's going to have to deal with mounds of insurance bureaucracy and that a malpractice lawyer would at least give her some kind of advocacy.
posted by rryan to Law & Government (6 answers total)
That's what doctors have malpractice for. Before she lawyers up, she should have the doctor's office get in touch with the insurance.
posted by notsnot at 6:12 PM on October 25, 2007

Redo. It happens. Your decision is him, or another doc. Just because he made a mistake does not mean he can't fix it. Ask around about this doc. If he has a good rep, the easy way out is have him do the redo, no charge, hospital or other. He can make that work. Otherwise you sue it gets messy, etc.
posted by caddis at 6:42 PM on October 25, 2007

Get to a lawyer stat. He or she will guide you through the rest.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:18 PM on October 25, 2007

See if you can find all of the paperwork she originally filled out. Lots of doctors these days are using mandatory arbitration agreements, which are horrible and effectively close out any lawsuits. That's step 1. Then, at least, you can go forward with an attorney and find out what your next steps are.

The insurance company can pay for the surgeries to fix the problem, and so-forth, but to get compensation for time, pain, etc., you will have to sue the doctor for malpractice.
posted by PandemicSoul at 10:19 PM on October 25, 2007

On the plus side, he admitted it. More and more research is showing that being honest with patients about mistakes makes them less hostile, (not to mention the patient gets the problem taken care of, which is the most important part!).

Find an independent surgeon (there are orthopedic surgeons that specialize in TOTAL KNEE REVISIONS, which is what this is classified as) for a 2nd opinion (this is a good start).

Get the second opinion, then go from there. Your mother's health and welfare are the priorities.

IANAD, IANAL, YMMV, not valid in all 50 states, use common sense, you get my point. Good luck and I hope your mother gets well soon!
posted by 6:1 at 2:07 AM on October 26, 2007

[With all the usual qualifications] Disregard notsnot. Follow IronMouth's advice. Sometimes a case can be negotiated with the doctor's insurance company without filing suit, when the facts and the liability is clear. But the negotiating will have to be done by her lawyer. That is the only way that her position will be taken seriously.

>I assume that ultimately the insurance company determines if it needs to get fixed and who pays.

No. A doctor will advise, but she makes the decision as to whether it needs to be fixed, and that should be done right away without regard for any claim. A claim (whether negotiated or litigated) deals with reimbursement, for both out-of-pocket costs and non-economic costs, if negligence is established.

He was straight with her. That will serve him well.
posted by megatherium at 5:14 AM on October 26, 2007

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