Medical Malpractice cases are hard enough. Between the fudging of charts (yes, it really does happen), the aggressive defense and the lobbying of government to severely limit a patient’s right to sue, it is already a stacked deck against plaintiffs. The doctors and their medical lobby aren’t leaving anything to chance, though. There are now services available to doctors that advertise they inoculate doctors from malpractice lawsuits.
These services supply the doctors with forms their patients must sign which promise not to sue, promise to sue the patient in the event the doctor is sued, and also promises to threaten, sue and seek disciplinary sanctions for any independent doctor that agrees to work with the injured plaintiff and their attorney.
What’s so bad about all that, you might ask? Let me explain. First, patients are entitled to reasonably competent medical treatment. Doctors have a duty to provide reasonably competent medical care. If the doctor can’t provide reasonably competent medical care, he has no business practicing medicine. When a doctor requires a patient to sign some agreement saying he won’t sue if the doctor screws up, the doctor has a license to commit malpractice, and loses any incentive he has to make sure he does the best work possible. Second, suing a patient who was the victim of malpractice as a form of intimidation is unethical and damn close to illegal. All they are trying to do is scare people from filing legitimate claims.
The third action promised by these services is the most troubling. They promise to sue and intimidate and report doctors to disciplinary boards who agree to help a plaintiff. In New York and Pennsylvania, as in many other states throughout the country, Plaintiff’s attorneys must have their case reviewed by a doctor who asserts malpractice occurred before suit can even be filed. At trial, Plaintiff’s attorneys must call a doctor to testify concerning what the defendant doctor did wrong. These services are attempting to cut off an injured patient’s right to sue by threatening doctors who agree to help the injured.
These services are like hiring a leg breaker to collect your debts instead of using a legitimate collection agency. Sure its effective, but at what cost? Maybe these doctors should spend more time on their patients. If they don’t make mistakes, they have nothing to worry about.
Thanks for reading,
Adam M. Gee, Esq.
New York and Pennsylvania Personal Injury and Malpractice Attorney
Ziff, Weiermiller, Hayden & Mustico, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901