Medical malpractice gets even worse when there is a cover-up

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care, the care that a reasonably prudent doctor or healthcare would have provided in the same or similar situation. If the provider’s negligence resulted in injury or death to a patient, a malpractice claim may be pursued.

It is surprising how often medical malpractice happens. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2012 alone, over $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice payouts, an average of one payout every 43 minutes.

So, how often are cases brought against doctors?  According to the Medical Malpractice Center, there are between 15,000 and 19,000 medical malpractice suits against doctors every year in the U.S. due to negligence or flagrant errors during a procedure. 

However, what makes these cases even worse is when the doctor in question tries to cover up his or her mistake or goes so far as to blame the victim in order to avoid liability for any damages that resulted from his or her negligence. 

If the doctor in question commits malpractice and then tries to cover up errors in treatment or procedures, they could be held liable for damages above and beyond the economic and/or non-economic damages awarded to the victim for injury or wrongful death.

Have you heard about this case?

In 2015, a woman underwent surgery to remove a rib at the Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. After the operation, the woman complained of persistent pain. A subsequent X-ray showed that, not only had the surgeon in question removed the wrong rib, but that some metal coils had been left in her body from the operation.

The woman was informed by a second doctor that she would need follow-up surgery to correct these mistakes, but the next day her surgeon informed her that he hadn’t made a mistake during surgery and that the correct rib had been replaced. He then went on to tell her that too little of the bone was removed, so she would require additional surgery.

In the woman’s medical malpractice complaint, she asserted that the doctor in question never once mentioned the metal coils that were left in her body when he offered an explanation as to why additional surgery was needed. She requested punitive damages from the defendant, claiming that, not only was he negligent in removing the wrong rib and leaving the coils in her body, but that he tried to cover up the mistake. This was egregious enough to warrant additional damages. 

Finding out if you’re a victim

In general, victims of malpractice are entitled to economic damages from medical mistakes such as medical bills, time off from work, and rehab expenses. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering. Punitive damages can also be awarded to punish a doctor for especially egregious behavior.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of medical malpractice and want to file a lawsuit, contact the Law Office of Scott S. Harris, San Diego medical malpractice attorney.