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Two approaches to medical malpractice litigation

The divergent approaches to errors made in the health care industry are evident in two stories. In the first story, a woman entered a hospital for a routine hysterectomy, fully expecting to be released the following day.

Instead, a series of medical errors resulted in her spending weeks in a coma, undergoing five operations and being left with permanent injuries. When she asked her doctor and hospital staff for an explanation of what went wrong, she was met with silence. 

In the second story, a retired cop entered a hospital for a back operation. He, too, was a victim of medical errors. In his case, he suffered a catastrophic spinal cord injury during surgery that has left him a quadriplegic.

But the surgeon immediately told the retired officer what went wrong in his operation and apologized for the mistake. The hospital covered his rehabilitation costs and other major expenses, while also giving him an undisclosed amount of compensation.

The first model -- the "deny and defend" approach -- is said by critics to cost doctors and medical institutions more in the long run. If mistakes are not acknowledged, critics say, medical errors can be perpetuated rather than corrected and avoided.

The second approach uses prompt disclosure, apologies and compensation to try to avoid medical malpractice litigation. Critics of this candid approach say it might well lead to more medical malpractice lawsuits, though the data indicates that it, in fact, reduces the numbers of claims filed.

Some observers of the health care industry believe patients, doctors and insurers all fare better with the second approach and that it is the wave of the future.

For victims of doctor negligence, a medical malpractice lawsuit is often the best way to shed light on medical errors that would otherwise be hidden from the public.

A conversation with an Atlanta attorney experienced in medical malpractice litigation can help you begin the pursuit of justice and deserved compensation.

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