The Do’s And Don’ts For Injured Victims
Information That Is Crucial To Your Case
Frequently Asked Questions
The Legal Process
THE DO’s AND DON’Ts FOR INJURED VICTIMS
Do contact our Law Firm immediately following your accident. The advice you receive in an initial interview may be extremely helpful in the days following the accident.
Do notify our Law Firm if you have changed your address and/or telephone number, or employment – including changes in salary, duties, or job title.
Do take pictures of any damage to your vehicle before you get it repaired. Use color film and take a whole roll of pictures.
Do save all medication bottles, casts, braces, and any other items from your doctor.
Do give your attorney any pictures and videos of the accident or accident scene that you or anyone else has taken for you.
Do obtain and save all receipts itemizing any and all expenses you incurred as a result of your accident. Be sure that receipts are dated and contain legible and complete vendor identification.
Do inform your attorney of anything you think has a bearing on the case, including extensive medical treatment or hospitalization.
Do not give any statements – written, recorded, or oral – to anyone concerning your accident or injuries without first consulting our Law Firm.
Do not admit fault or offer any opinions about the cause of the accident.
Do not speak to anyone other than your attorney about your accident or case.
Do not wait to visit a doctor if you are injured. At your visit, do not hold back any information about the location and severity of your pain.
Do not make any false or incorrect statements about prior injuries to any doctor who may treat or examine you. If you don’t remember past information, say so.
Do not ignore your doctor’s advice.
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INFORMATION THAT IS CRUCIAL TO YOUR CASE
Keep Detailed Records
Record the following information on an ongoing basis to maintain an accurate account of the suffering that you have endured.
Lost work time and wages.
Expenses resulting from your injuries (i.e., transportation, home care, etc.)
Pain and suffering.
Your physical limitations.
Taking the time to collect and record accurate information may have a positive effect on the outcome of your case. Copies of checks and receipts of payment, as well as the above records, will be very helpful when you may be asked an insurance company or attorney to recall your pain, physical disabilities, and any out-of-pocket expenses including medication.
Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
Be sure to do what your doctors tell you and show up for all appointments. By missing a doctor’s appointment, you are saying to the doctor and to the insurance company that your pain doesn’t matter or affect you too much.
It is very important for you to work hard to get well and to go to all of your appointments. These appointments can serve as evidence of your pain and rehabilitation. If you are in pain and you do not see a doctor, the insurance company and the jury will not believe that you are having pain.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why Should I Hire your Law Firm As My Attorneys?
Because we believe in what we do and what we do makes a difference in the lives of our clients and in the world in general.
We are concerned for our client’s well being — this is why we have chosen to work for plaintiffs (the injured parties) and plaintiffs only. We don’t and never have represented insurance companies or corporations. We only represent people who have been injured or taken advantage of by insurance companies or both. We are concerned that our clients receive the medical care they deserve and recover physically from their injuries, as well as recover emotionally and economically. We care enough to tell our clients the truth about what we can and cannot do to help them. We care enough to devote ourselves fully to each client’s case. We know the law and know how to use it for our clients’ best interests.
What Our Staff Members Say:
“I recommend people to hire us because we are responsible, work as a team, we care about people and most important of all we know what we are doing.” – Marta I. De la Torre
“We are a very dependable and professional law firm. We know how to handle business.” – Nora Zamarripa
“We give the advice clients need for their lives, not their case and fight hard to carry out the decisions our clients make about the matters we are hired to accomplish.” – Edward Spilsbury
“I recommend that injured people hire us to represent them because we are committed to providing them with the best outcome of their case.” – Colleen Cadogan
If you are looking for a committed, resourceful and compassionate law firm to advise and representatives to help you hold a responsible person accountable for your injuries, you should choose our Law Firm as your personal injury attorneys.
What Should I Expect A Personal Injury Attorney To Do For Me?
You should expect your personal injury attorney to be an educator, an advisor, a communicator, a representative, an advocate, he/she should be your “Champion”.
Your attorney should educate you about your rights, the legal basis of your claim and the damages you are able to recover.
Your attorney should advise you throughout the process of recovery (physically, emotionally and economically) as to what to expect and how to best care for yourself throughout the recovery process.
Your attorney should be an effective and honest representative for you. After all, he is your voice in your dealings with the defendants and their representatives.
Your attorney should be an effective advocate in the pursuit of your rights.
Your attorney should be your “Champion”, your “David”, your “Robin Hood”, educating, advising, advocating and fighting for you. Someone you are proud of.
Why Should I Hire An Attorney To Assist Me In Resolving My Personal Injury Claim?
Higher net recovery to you, an experienced guide on your side, relief from worry. An insurance industry research institution studied personal injury claims processed by the injured person alone, verses personal injury claims handled by attorneys. They determined that those represented by attorneys had a higher net recovery to themselves (more money in their pocket after attorney’s fees and costs) than those without attorneys.
An experienced personal injury attorney provides you the advantage of a skilled professional who will provide you the benefit of his experience and insight to equal the playing field when dealing with insurance companies and the major corporations of the world. Hiring a personal injury attorney allows you to focus on your recovery from your injuries while your attorney focuses on holding the responsible person accountable for your injuries.
How Does Your Law Firm Charge Attorneys’ Fees?
We only work on a contingency fee, meaning that if we do not win, we do not get paid. Injury victims cannot afford to pay an attorney by the hour. Our contingency fee is in line with other top-quality lawyers who handle serious personal injury matters. There are no up front costs or fees with us.
Who Is Going To Pay Up Front For All Of The Costs And Expenses Of My Case?
Costs must be advanced during the case to hire experts, conduct discovery and prepare for trial. We advance all costs and we say so in our retainer agreement. The client is responsible for reimbursing the costs when the case settles. If we don’t recover money for you, you will owe nothing.
What Happens If We Lose The Case?
You are not responsible for any fees or costs.
What Is The Value Of My Case?
Because every case is unique and different, it is impossible to tell immediately how much money, if any, you will recover in connection with your case. In cases of serious injury, the ultimate recovery is often related to the amount of insurance coverage available, the nature, extent, and duration of your injuries, and the assessment of liability. We feel it is our primary duty to obtain an amount of money which will fairly and justly compensate you for your injuries. We will make every effort to do this by locating all sources of money. We will advise you of our evaluation in this regard.
In general, most states allow recovery of damages for the following elements of damage:
The nature and extent of injury, including whether the injury is permanent, and the amount of disability.
Medical expenses, including past bills and future expenses that are reasonably considered to be incurred. This may include mileage to and from the doctor or hospital.
Wage loss, past and future and loss of capacity to earn a living.
Pain and suffering, including your motor vehicle and other items of personal property.
Loss of consortium for your spouse, past and future.
Why Does It Take So Long To File A Claim?
We cannot make your claim until after the doctors have given us reports stating exactly what your medical condition is and what they expect it to be in the future: in other words, until you have reached “maximum medical improvements”. Many times the doctors will be very slow in making these reports. We may even, on occasion, ask you to contact your doctor to speed up this report.
If we try to settle your case before your medical condition is stabilized, you may lose money that you might be entitled to for a condition that did not show up until after your case was settled. It is important to know that your case will not be settled until the damages have been determined and all investigations to determine who is liable have been completed.
It generally takes several months to gather the necessary information. If a trial becomes necessary, it can take several years to complete a case. One of the most difficult requests we make of you is to have patience. our Law Firm will work as hard and fast as possible to settle your case quickly.
Who Should I Talk To About My Case?
Do not discuss your accident with anyone except your attorney and your doctors. If your own insurance company wants to talk about your case before they pay your medical bills, please refer them to your attorney.
Remember that any necessary information from employers, schools, or other persons will be obtained by our Law Firm. Also, you should not sign anything for anyone else until you check with you attorney first.
What Is Uninsured/Underinsured Driver Insurance?
If you were hit by an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist, you may be eligible for benefits under your own policy or the policy that covered the vehicle you were in. Many insurance companies have special provisions if you desire to proceed against the uninsured motorist provision of the policy. In most cases, you will be able to collect for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, etc., in the same way as if the driver that hit you did have insurance. We ask that you provide us with a complete copy of your own insurance policy in force at the time of the accident.
What Is Subrogation?
If any insurance company pays some of your medical or other expenses arising from your injury, the law provides “subrogation” which means that the insurance company stands “in your shoes” and can recover from the liable party some or all of the amounts paid on your behalf. If this is the case, they usually are required to pay their proportionate share of the attorney’s fee and costs in connection with the recovery. This is handled on a case-by-case basis.
What Should I Do About Medical Liens?
Some of our clients are involved in an accident where there is no medical payments insurance, worker’s compensation or private health insurance. In such cases, your doctor will expect to be paid by you at the conclusion of this case. Often they will require you to agree, in writing, to have us pay them directly from the proceeds you receive. State laws sometimes permit health care providers to file a “lien” which must be paid out of the proceeds of your case. If your doctor asks you to sign what is often called a “lien letter”, be sure to contact our office. In some cases, it may not be appropriate for you to sign such an agreement.
What If I Choose To File Bankruptcy?
If you are considering filing bankruptcy, you should know that you may lose all rights to your personal injury case. The Bankruptcy Court can take over your case, settle your case and give your settlement money to your creditors, and you will receive nothing. Be sure to talk to your lawyer before filing bankruptcy.
What About Claims That Are Filed Against The Government?
Any injury claim, whether it stems from a car collision or other event that involves the government, is subject to special rules. The governmental entity involved may be the state, a city, a county, local government, or the United States. Generally, a Notice of Claim must be filed with the appropriate governmental agency very soon following your injury. If you believe that the government may be involved in your case, please notify us immediately.
THE LEGAL PROCESS
First Steps In Representing You
Your initial interview with our Law Firm will help us gather general information about your case. We will guide you on what you should and should not do, and give you necessary materials to help you. Then, you will be asked to sign certain authorization forms to allow us to obtain your medical records and other pertinent information.
our Law Firm will contact the person who was responsible for your injury and/or the insurance company, and notify the parties that you have retained us as your attorneys. We will also contact all of the doctors and hospitals involved in your care to obtain your medial chart and billing information.
Filing A Lawsuit
Before filing a lawsuit, our Law Firm will obtain your permission and explain to you why we believe a lawsuit should be filed. The decision to file a lawsuit should be made by your attorney with your input. Filing a lawsuit may be necessary to obtain adequate monetary compensation for your injury.
Settlement is always possible and is a common alternative to filing a lawsuit. In fact, only a small percentage of cases make it to trial.
Going To Trial
The following are the steps necessary to bring the case to trial.
Pleadings are the documents parties file in court that form the basis of a lawsuit. This is intended to be general information only. Each case is unique.
Complaint or Petition – A lawsuit is filed against an opposing party by filing a document in court known as a complaint or petition. The person who brings the action is the plaintiff – you. The person against whom the action is brought is the defendant. The petition is a statement of facts alleging the names of the parties and alleging why the conduct of the defendant entitles the plaintiff to recover damages.
Summons – Once the plaintiff’s petition is filed, a “summons” is issued to be served on the defendant by an officer of the Court, usually a Deputy Sheriff or process server, informing the defendant that suit has been filed and that a response must be made within a given period of time or a judgment will be taken against him.
Answer or Motion – The response filed by the defendant is called an Answer, which is prepared by the attorney for the defendant. Alternatively, if a defense attorney feels there is a fatal flaw with the lawsuit a motion to dismiss the complaint or to strike portions of the complaint may be filed.
Once an action is filed, both sides have a right to “discover” facts concerning the opposing party’s case. Normal discovery proceedings include written interrogatories, depositions, production of records, and sometimes medical examinations.
Interrogatories – Each side may serve written questions on the opposing party, called “interrogatories”. You are required to answer these questions within a prescribed period of time, in writing and under oath. We will serve interrogatories on the defendant in your behalf, and the defendant will serve interrogatories on you, which you must answer. our Law Firm will assist you in preparing your answers.
Depositions – Used to learn as much as possible about the other side’s claim or defenses, a deposition collects information, under oath, that is transcribed in a statement which may be used by either side in a lawsuit. It has the same effect as testifying under oath. Those present are the parties concerned, their lawyers, sometimes an additional witness or two, and a court reporter who records the questions and answers. The lawyers normally agree in advance where the deposition will be held. It is usually in the office of one of the lawyers. You are required by law to give a deposition. This is not something in which we have a choice. Because of this, we will need your full cooperation. Prior to the deposition, our Law Firm will go over the facts of the case with you and answer any questions you might have.
YOUR DEPOSTION IS OFTEN
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR CASE.
It is important that you be prepared well in advance of the deposition date.
In giving a deposition, there are a few rules to follow:
a. Always tell the truth, even if it hurts your case.
b. Answer only the questions. Do not make any voluntary statements or speeches.
c. Think before you make any answer to any questions. If it concerns a matter about which you do not know, or a detail you do not remember, you may so state. However, once you have stated that you do not know or remember, it’s hard to change your testimony at trial.
d. Always be polite. Frequently the other attorney will ask you many questions which will seem to you to have no bearing upon the case. Nevertheless, it is your duty to answer these questions, notwithstanding the fact that they may irritate you.
e. Never conceal prior injuries or prior illnesses. Remember, the other side has the means of obtaining such information.
There are occasions when the parties submit the dispute to “mediation”. The parties meet with an independent third person, usually an experienced lawyer or retired judge, who assists the parties in arriving at a settlement. The results are not binding. It is informal, and less expensive than a trial. If that is an option to your case, your lawyer will discuss it with you.
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If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one as the result of a car accident, you need the advice of an experienced Nevada personal injury lawyer. Call our Law Firm today for your free consultation.
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The Nevada hazardous roadway lawyers of the law firm of Bisnar & Chase are skilled in the area of Nevada auto accident law. We represent victims of serious injury and wrongful death from accidents, including those who have been injured in hazardous roadway accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in a hazardous roadway accident in Las Vegas or Nevada, please contact Bisnar & Chase today for a free consultation.
With the expansion of freeways and roadway construction taking place in Nevada, drivers are suffering serious auto accident injuries as the result of unexpected road debris and other construction related hazards. The recurrent debris, detours, and other unanticipated hazards that occur on the roads make it difficult and dangerous to drive. Traffic signs that warn of changes in the road should be visible for all drivers so they may adjust their speed or prepare to stop their vehicle if necessary. Highways should provide drivers with adequate lighting to assist in viewing the road and other vehicles, as well as being equipped with guardrails to protect drivers and passengers in the event of an accident.
Our accomplished Nevada personal injury law firm is committed to protecting the rights of our seriously injured clients and to recovering for them the maximum monetary recovery possible. As the result of our experience and knowledge of personal injury law, we have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our personal injury clients.
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one as the result of a hazardous roadway accident, you need the advice of an experienced Nevada personal injury lawyer. Call Bisnar & Chase today for your free consultation.
Bisnar & Chase has been awarded the highest ranking a law firm can be awarded, signifying that the lawyers have reached the best heights of professional excellence and are recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.
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As Some of the Top Car Accident Attorneys, We Understand How Meeting a Car Accident is a Painful and Costly Experience, Especially without the Help of an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney.
Car Accident Attorneys care for you. That’s why we are here to help make it easy for you to claim for compensation.
Injuries caused by a car accident could lead to financial problems, because it leaves the person unable to work in his full capacity for a long time.
In many instances, car accidents have left hundreds of people incapable of working for the rest of their lives, leaving themselves and their families in financial burdens.
This doesn’t need to happen to you.
If you or anyone you care about was recently involved in a car accident, consult with Car Accident Attorneys right away. An experienced attorney should sort out your claims right away so you can concentrate on what’s more important – your recovery.
With a highly qualified car accident attorney, you and your loved ones’ best interest is protected.
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Medical Malpractice — Jonathan Craig Reed
Jonathan Craig Reed
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By Jonathan C. Reed
Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care professional or institution such as a hospital to follow the standard of care in treating a patient with the result that the patient is injured as a result of that failure to follow the standard of care.
As a practical matter, as a result of recent legislative changes and Nevada Supreme Court decisions, it is very hard for a lawyer to bring a successful medical malpractice lawsuit. As a result, I have been forced to become very, very selective in what medical malpractice cases I will consider.
In a nutshell, a good medical malpractice case should be based on an error that is simple enough to explain to a bright young child and involves death or very serious permanent damage. (In contrast, I’m happy to take an auto collision with small damages.)
The reason that medical malpractice cases in Nevada have become so difficult recently are these:
1) There is now a one year statute of limitation to bring medical malpractice actions. Although there are some exceptions, in most cases the case has to be filed within one year of the injury. The relevant statute is N.R.S. 41A.097 http://leg.state.nv.us/nrs/NRS-041A.html#NRS041ASec097 and this statute lists the exceptions. Exceptions include concealment of the injury by the health care provider. One way to prove concealment may be the failure to report what is called a “sentinel event” to the patient. N.R.S. 439.830 http://www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/NRS-439.html#NRS439Sec830 defines “sentinent event” as an unexpected occurrence involving facility-acquired infection, death or serious physical or psychological injury or the risk thereof, including, without limitation, any process variation for which a recurrence would carry a significant chance of a serious adverse outcome. The term includes loss of limb or function.” N.R.S. 439.855 requires hospitals and certain other facilities to notify patients of such “sentinel events.” This same statute provides that the patient notification is not to be considered an admission of liability and elsewhere in this statutory scheme there are all sorts of protections against the mandatory duties of hospitals to report and investigate sentinel events being used against them in lawsuits. However, the fact is that many hospitals and other facilities ignore their duties to report “sentinel events” and this illegal failure to do so might be used successfully as an argument to lengthen the statute of limitations if the patient otherwise wasn’t on notice of a potential malpractice claim.
2) The Nevada Supreme Court has made it absolutely clear that when the complaint is filed the attorney must include an expert affidavit (in most cases) explaining how the defendant breached the standard of care and that this breach in the standard of care caused the injury complained of. This is much different that the situation with almost all other lawsuits. In almost all other lawsuits, the plaintiff can make allegation when the complaint if filed and will have time after the filing of the complaint to back them up. The material to back up the lawsuit sometimes comes from the defendant because Plaintiff, after filing suit, is allowed to ask the defendant questions under oath. But with a medical malpractice lawsuit the Plaintiff in most cases essentially has to put his or her case together before filing within one year of the injury. You can see that if someone goes into a hospital for a simple operation and dies, it might or might not be so easy to understand why the person died, what each doctor or other health professional did wrong, and how this wrongful act caused the death, especially if all of the health care professionals stick together and keep their mouths shut.
3) The combination of both of the above factors means that an attorney does not want to look at a possible medical practice case within a few to several months of the one year statute running. If an attorney were to spend three months looking into a case 8 months after malpractice occurred and then decide not to take the case, the client would only have one more month before the statute ran and no other attorney would want to be working under that kind of deadline to put the case together.
4) It is very expensive to hire other doctors to give affidavits and testimony in a medical malpractice case. This is much different than an auto accident case in which there is an almost free police report.
5) The law limits the amount of compensation a medical malpractice victim can receive. The damages are limited to economic damages such as medical expenses and wage loss and $350,000 in non-economic damage. Let’s illustrate with an example. Suppose a 20 year old office worker loses the ability to walk and is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his or her life because of provable medical malpractice. Let’s assume the worker can still work in the office. The entire compensation for being stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his or her life is limited to $350,000. In almost any other personal injury case, this claim would be worth millions of dollars if there was good or even arguably good liability. If the defendant had adequate insurance or resources the defendant might offer, say $3,000,000 out of fear that a jury might award much more than that. But in our medical malpractice example, above, the defense can’t lose more on the wheelchair claim than $350,000 so it has every incentive to not even offer that amount.
6) Often, doctors, like police at a coroner’s inquest, enjoy a favorable initial impression.
7) Typically doctors can tell their malpractice insurance company not to settle even if the insurance company would like to settle. Doctors may prefer not to settle because all of the malpractice settlements become available to the public. At the following website you can enter a Nevada doctor’s name and see what malpractice settlements and discipline actions have been taken against the doctor: https://nsbme.mylicense.com/Verification/ For more information on Nevada doctors go to http://www.medboard.nv.gov/
Now that we have discussed some of the difficulties of all medical malpractice cases, let’s look at some specific types of cases:
Sometimes the breach of the standard of care is easy to demonstrate. The wrong leg is amputated. A radiologist injecting gas into the intestine to get a better image misconnects the machine and blows up the gut. Large foreign bodies are unintentionally left in the abdomen. Unfortunately, things you might think are obvious breaches of the standard of care are not. For example, the colon is perforated during a colonoscopy. Sorry, the mere fact of that this happened doesn’t prove anything. Colon perforation is known, and fortunately uncommon risk of a colonoscopy.
Serious Injury from Cancer Radiation Treatment:
Not every radiation injury from radiation treatment for cancer is the result of malpractice. However, there has been a recent trend to deliver radiation with very sophisticated machines that are supposed to deliver very intense radiation to a precise, small target (the tumor) in the body. Sometimes the complex machines are not calibrated correctly with horrible results that do constitute medical malpractice.
Failure to Timely Diagnose Cancer:
My first step in this sort of claim is to go on the internet and see what the 5 year survival rate of the cancer is. If the five year survival rate is very low I know the defense is going to be that the patient had a horrible diagnosis no matter what. If the five year survival rate is fairly favorable as cancers go, then there are questions calling for expert medical opinion as to how much chance of surviving the patient has lost because of the delay, and whether the delay was due to medical malpractice. If the medical records are available a non-doctor with some medical education can get rough answers off the internet and from peer reviewed medical journals either in medical libraries or on the internet by paying for access to each article. Usually there is a free summary of the article on the internet so the attorney can get a rough idea of whether the case is probably worth putting some serious money into to get an expert medical opinion.
Several standards of care in medical practice are simple to set out. If there is a lump in the breast it should be biopsied. Failure to conduct or recommend a biopsy of a breast lump is a violation of the standard of care. This can lead to a successful malpractice case for failure to timely diagnose breast cancer. Blood in the urine is suspicious for bladder cancer. Failure to examine the bladder after a finding of blood in the urine with an endoscope (or to recommend that it be done) is a violation of the standard of care and can lead to malpractice for failure to diagnose bladder cancer. Failure to follow up a laboratory finding of occult (hidden) blood in feces is a violation of the standard of care and it can lead a malpractice claim for delayed diagnose of colon or rectal cancer.
It sometimes happens that biopsy is read as benign when it is in fact cancer. This would seem to be malpractice but in fact for some biopsies the borderline between what is cancer and what is not cancer is not so clear. The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology is one of the more respected expert labs on examining biopsies for cancer.
Very Bad Reactions to Drugs:
Occasionally a prescription drug causes the entire body to react violently requiring an extensive and painful hospitalization if the patient can be saved. Whether there is a case for medical malpractice will depend on what the prescribing doctor know or should have known about the drug, the other drugs the patient was taking, and the patient’s condition and history of allergies.
Failure to Timely Order a C-Section to Avoid Fetal Distress and Brain Damage to the Child:
These are not easy cases to evaluate but potentially huge cases. If a child is born with brain damage it is worthwhile to look into whether there was a problem with the delivery. There may not have been, but it is worthwhile checking it out.
Hospital Acquired Infections:
The cases are extremely difficult unless the Plaintiff or someone on behalf of the Plaintiff can point to a specific breach of sanitary care on the part of one or more health care providers. The fact that the hospital staff and attending doctors don’t usually comply 100% with handwashing rules usually won’t cut it. The fact that horrible infections can occur in even the world’s top hospitals helps the defense in these cases.
Bad Results from Treatments or Tests That Weren’t Necessary:
We have been oversold on the idea that the earlier cancer is detected the better off we are and that we should do everything we can to detect cancer early. For most cancer of certain types early detection IS terribly important. Most colon and cervical cancers fit this advice. Ditto for melanomas, the most serious of the several skin cancers. Unfortunately, there are some cancers for which the treatment may be worse than leaving them along. Routine screening for prostate cancer is an area of much debate. It appears that THE LARGE MAJORITY OF prostate cancers if left alone will do no harm and treating them risks impotence and incontinence. However, SOME prostate cancers, if not treated will metastasize to the bones and cause a painful death. Likewise there is debate as to whether small ductal in situ carcinomas of the breast should be aggressively treated. CT scans do impose a large dose of radiation on the body. There is debate as to how much cancer risk CT scans create. A plan of medical treatment or diagnosis that involves multiple CT scan may carry its own risk of cancer.
Unfortunately, many factors push doctors to order more, rather than less treatment and diagnosis. 1) Doctors are often enthusiastic about new technologies, perhaps, too uncritically. 2) As a general rule doctors get sued for not ordering enough treatment or diagnosis. It is hard to sue a doctor for ordering too much in the way of diagnostic procedures because the harm suffered by the patient will likely be small or hard to prove, especially compared to the dramatic downside of failing to timely a cancer. 3) Doctors don’t get adequately paid for taking the time to educate patients on all of the benefits and risk of a diagnostic procedure. 4) Doctors want to avoid seeing one of their patients die of cancer; it is psychologically easier for doctors to order more tests than to risk feeling guilty about not catching a cancer in time.
Unless there is a very bad, provable result from an unnecessary test or treatment, usually there is no worthwhile malpractice claim. Patients are largely left to their own in avoiding unnecessary tests and treatments. However, some doctors will discuss candidly their reservations about certain tests or treatments if asked, “Doctor, if your mother (wife) was in my situation what would you suggest?”
Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Make Medical
Politically it is easier to blame lawyers for the price of health care than it is to raise taxes to pay for it or to limit care. Here are some medical malpractices case I have successfully handled and you can be the judge of whether such lawsuits should be discouraged:
Radiologist blows up Patient’s Colon: In this pre-colonoscopy era case a test showed blood in the patient’s feces and the doctor ordered an x-ray of the patient’s colon. To see the colon better, the procedure was to blow air into the colon. Unfortunately, the radiologist (a doctor who reads X-rays and CT scans and MRIs),using some new machinery hooked it up wrong and blew so much air into the patient’s gut that the colon burst. The patient required immediately surgery resulting in a colostomy (the gut emptied into a bag), followed half a year later by corrective surgery. The radiologist was apparently a good doctor who made a simple mistake with new equipment. Should the patient have been compensated for this nightmare?
Doctor’s Error delays Diagnosis of Colon Cancer: The patient, in the course of a routine physical, had his stool (feces) tested for blood. The test came back from the lab a few days later positive. The doctor or his office should have alerted the patient and had him come in to see if had colon cancer which was the whole point of the stool test. Instead, the doctor and his office dropped the ball. A year later the patient was diagnosed with colon cancer at a more advanced stage. Should the patient have been compensated for his decreased chance of survival?
Doctor’s Error delays Diagnosis of Lung Cancer: The patient, a recently retired LA school teacher had quit smoking a few years ago. He went to his family doctor for a physical exam. An x-ray showed a small suspicious spot on his lung. The doctor honestly told the patient that he wasn’t expert at reading the x-ray and would send it out to a radiologist. The radiologist reported back to the doctor that the spot looked like it was probably harmless but that this x-ray should be compared to an earlier one if available to see if the spot had grown recently, or else the patient should be re-x-rayed in 6 months. The doctor knew the patient’s wife socially and called her to say there really wasn’t anything to worry about. Two years later the patient went back for another physical and x-ray and by then the spot was enormously enlarged and proved to be cancer. Because the patient was recently retired as an LA school teacher, he had had frequent chest x-rays by the LA school district which were readily available for examination. Examination would have shown that the spot when first discovered was a new spot and should have been biopsied. Should the patient have been compensated for his decreased chance of survival?
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