NPR recently covered the story of one doctor’s confession of lying in order to protect a colleague in a medical malpractice suit—a story that needs to be heard for the sake of medical malpractice victims all over the country. It brings into question just how many doctors, serving as experts in medical malpractice cases, feel pressured into lying on behalf of their colleagues, and in doing so, are violating those important pledges of professionalism that come with practicing medicine.
Although studies have not yet been released concerning how frequently doctors lie in order to protect colleagues, plenty of studies have indicated that patients often are not told the truth by doctors, or informed of health care-related mistakes, when they take place.
Pressure Against Speaking the Truth
In the interview with this particular doctor (Dr. Lars Aanning), he describes being immersed in a “cultural attitude” as a doctor, where any and all attorneys are portrayed as a threat, and anything is deemed acceptable in an effort to thwart their efforts to recover for clients; in other words, where lying is portrayed as supporting your colleague, not doing a disservice to patients. Dr. Aanning describes the pressure to “[band] together with your peers,” as strong, indicating that actually being the patient advocate that you are supposed to be is like becoming “a man without a country,” when it comes to taking sides in medical malpractice claims.
His purpose in now speaking up to various publications and assisting victims of medical malpractice claims is to demonstrate why relying on physician experts who testify on behalf of the defendant doctor can be difficult in terms of ensuring that justice is done. In essence, this needs to change, as the playing field is far from level for the plaintiff, and not enough judges recognize it.
Statistics That Speak for Themselves
According to recently highlighted medical malpractice statistics:
- 60% of victims are female;
- The median age for a victim is 38;
- Approximately 20% of patient victims are newborns and 12% are 65 or older;
- OBGYNs constitute 19% of all cases, with general surgeons constituting 17% and primary care physicians 16%;
- The average compensation awarded in a medical malpractice cases for inpatients is $363,000 and for outpatients is $290,000; and
- In inpatient care, 34% of medical malpractice claims are related to surgical errors; in outpatient care, 46% are related to diagnostic errors.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys Who Care
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed because of a negligent act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional. This is not limited to errors during diagnosis, treatment, or illness management, but also in falling to listen to patients, or failing to respond to previous mistakes made by a medical professional.
At Harrell & Nowak, our New Orleans medical malpractice attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that victims receive the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical error, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.