Medical needs differ from person to person. Maybe you’re in excellent health and only see your doctor for an annual physical. Perhaps you go in to seek a consult for a semi-serious injury (broken bone, bad ankle sprain, bruised or cracked rib) that doesn’t require surgery or other forms of intensive medical care.
On the other hand, you may require daily, weekly, or monthly medical care, are scheduled for or are scheduling an intensive medical procedure. Some examples include bypass surgery, knee or shoulder replacement, putting in a heart stint, or giving birth, to name a few. Medical procedures are nearly endless. Some are routine, while field-specific experts must address others.
While surgery is scary, one thing that puts us at ease is having trust in the physician performing the procedure. Learning that the doctor performing the operation or birthing your child was sued could send someone into a frenzy.
While you retain the right to act how you wish, it’s essential to understand exactly how common medical malpractice claims have become – and why doctors face them at such regularity.
The commonality of medical malpractice claims
The average number of claims is rather large. Annually, Americans file 17,000 claims for medical negligence. In addition to that outstanding number, 75% of physicians who specialize in low-risk medical care, like family medicine, psychiatry or pediatric care, have been sued for medical malpractice. The percentage of doctors who specialize in high-risk medical care, like neurosurgery or OBGYN, increases to 99%.
Research is the first step
To calm your nerves, you must gather the facts. The first fact to collect is to learn whether or not your doctor has faced a lawsuit. There are a few ways to go about this.
You could visit the website of your state’s department of public health to find out if the hospital you’ll be attending has had complaints made against it.
Second, you could call a county clerk to research, and if available, pull the suit for you. The one caveat, you would likely have to pay for a copy. Also, the file could be confidential.
The option that most of us would think of first is to search online. Adding your doctor’s name, malpractice, negligence or sued, and the state in which they are practicing could yield some results.
Your physician was sued! Now what?
It’s no secret that Americans love to sue. Sometimes for very just reasons, other suits are more petty but still reliable, and some fall apart. You have the right to sue or fire your doctor, but going down a rabbit hole can be dangerous, which makes the facts that much more vital. If you decide to sue for medical malpractice, you very likely have a case, and an experienced attorney will be there for you.
The facts show that many suits that doctors face have nothing to do with medical malpractice. Many occur due to administrative issues, like license renewals of student loan defaults. In addition to this, 65% of malpractice claims are dropped or dismissed.
That said, the fact remains that medical negligence does occur at the hands of physicians and hospital administrations. If you think you have a case, don’t sit on it. The facts of a case also matter.