Medical Profession is ‘accountable’ to the society and obliged to the laws regulating the professional activity. Although in most of the medical litigations, the severity of the patient disability has been predictive in judgments in favor of the patients, negligence does have an impact on importance of high-quality medical care and doctor accountability in adverse medical events.
The Court usually award three types of damages.1.Compensatory damages – for an injured plaintiff’s economic losses, costs of health care and lost wages. 2. Compensatory damages – for non economic losses including pain, suffering associated to injury and 3. Punitive damages – in cases where a defendant (here, a doctor) has been found to have acted in a willful fashion, demonstrating negligence with no regard for the patient’s well being. Medical malpractice law is part of tort, or personal injury law.
THE CASE STUDIES
Adrian Bowe, 31, from Dearhem near Mary port in UK won £3 million in damages – the reason – He suffered a massive stroke in April 2000 completely paralyzing him because his GP failed to refer him to a specialist for medical treatment. He needs professional medical care for the rest of his life and will not be able to work again. Mr.Bowe first went to the doctor complaining dizziness and blurred vision. The doctor incorrectly diagnosed a migraine and his diagnosis remained unchanged despite Mr.Bowe making further visits. A year after the consultation Mr.Bowe’s mother Patricia found him collapsed at his home. Subsequent tests revealed a massive stroke. In court, it was judged that the doctor should have referred Mr.Bowe to a neurologist based on his symptoms which were clear warnings of a stroke and was a strong case of wrong diagnosis .
Edward Wilson filed a lawsuit against the Beverly Health Care center, West Virginia which was responsible for his wife Carol’s death in Jan 2004. He alleged that she died from sepsis due to multiple urinary tract infections she had developed due to poor infection control methods, during assisted toileting. The death of Nardia, 32, in Feb 2002 after a hysterectomy at Mater hospital has brought the senior surgeon under scrutiny although he was not excluded or cancelled from the Queens land Medical Board. Shahzadi Shahida Sultana, 35, Pakistan died after a 10 inch forceps was left out in her abdomen during a caesarean section. Two doctors were suspended after her relatives lodged a complaint against five women doctors in 2005.
A private hospital in Milan, Italy, has been asked to handover for police verification of the medical records of at least twenty one cases who had heart valve surgery, following complaints that the surgeon replaced heart valves even in patients who did not need them replaced. A medical hospital has been pushed into a centre of a litigation storm after allegations of abnormally high death rate in its emergency wing. Thirteen deaths are under investigation now.
This followed the anonymous complaints of sedation of terminally ill patients. Investigation has revealed an astounding 151 cases of sedation of which 57 cases had no informed consent of the family. A doctor has been suspended following the investigations for a series of ‘serious administrative errors’ in this regard (Waller, 2005). For the first time that an NHS trust had been prosecuted in UK following the death of the patient Mr. Phillips, admitted for a routine knee operation who developed Staphylococcal toxic Shock Syndrome (Dyer, 2006).
Bosk, “Forgive and Remember: Managing medical failure”, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1979.
Bojan Pancerski, “British Medical Journal”, 332:382, 18 Feb 2006.
Dyer Clare, “British Medical Journal”, 332:623, 18 March 2006.
Waller stein Claire, “British Medical Journal”, 330:1044, 7 May. 2005.
Dyer Clare, “British Medical Journal”, 332:135 21, Jan, 2006.
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