Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Increase or Decrease Patient Safety?

Many patients are looking for answers and acknowledgment that a mistake was made. DSC06009

Some have claimed that medical malpractice lawsuits compromise the care provided to patients because doctors are too afraid of lawsuits to perform their job. Yet there is evidence showing that the accountability that lawsuits place on the medical profession helps patient safety and prods doctors to cover all of their bases. So, which is it? Do medical malpractice lawsuits help or hurt patients? Are doctors crippled by the fear of medical malpractice lawsuits, so much so that they cannot learn from their mistakes?

The truth is that it is not an easy question to answer. However, it is also true that the fear of malpractice has some hospitals changing the way they do things, and this is undeniably positive. For decades, hospitals and doctors thought that the best way to avoid lawsuits was to hide evidence of malpractice and keep patients in the dark. But inevitably frustrated patients who could not get answers had no choice but to file medical malpractice lawsuits in order to achieve a remedy. Now more hospitals are choosing to be more transparent and disclose mistakes, rather than hiding them. As a result, many patients are more willing to forgive if doctors are straightforward about errors.

Health care costs are a major current issue. Many are saying that tort reform is the answer to the question of how to bring costs down. Doctors are very interested in keeping premiums down so that they do not have to pay exorbitant malpractice insurance fees in order to practice. However, because tens of thousands of patients still die every year due to malpractice, instituting caps on the damages that can be awarded to injured patients and their families and denying these patients substantial legal and financial remedy does not appear to be a fair solution.

While the matter is far from being resolved, it is true that more hospitals are promoting policies of being more open with patients and less secretive about errors. And this is a major step forward. In addition, hospitals are less afraid to address the issues head-on and actually discuss and learn from mistakes involving doctors and hospital staff. This is the real way to minimize medical malpractice lawsuits – finding the reasons why they happen. Some errors are preventable and are due to negligence, carelessness, or human error. Identifying these situations and instances and then discussing how to make changes and prevent them from continuing to happen is the real way to keep patients safe.

St. Louis Medical Malpractice Attorney

In some cases what patients are really looking for is acknowledgment from a doctor or other health care provider that a mistake was made and answers about what happened. In some situations a discussion or mediation session may be enough to keep the matter out of the courts. However, some victims of medical malpractice need to go to court to achieve a remedy for injuries caused to them in a situation that was beyond their control.

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Missouri and wish to discuss your legal options with an experienced Missouri medical malpractice attorney, contact the Zevan and Davidson Law Firm. You may choose not to file a suit after all, but because statutes of limitation come into play, you should consider all of your options while they are still possible. A medical malpractice attorney at Zevan and Davidson can help you to determine an appropriate course of action.

To schedule a free consultation, call us today at (314) 588-7200 or fill out our Online Case Evaluation Form.


photo credit: Andy G

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