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Post-Pandemic Thoughts on Medical Malpractice 101

June 22, 2021

Medical malpractice insurance rates have skyrocketed – what do patients and plaintiffs need to know? Michael Kosner weighs in.

As we enter post-pandemic life, it’s worth noting that a lot of people who don’t usually interact with the medical system had to see doctors or nurses last year. While healthcare providers in general stepped up and bravely fought on the front lines against COVID, not everybody’s experience with healthcare professionals is going to be positive. It’s a good time to discuss medical malpractice – including how COVID-related medical malpractice lawsuits could impact the field.

Deratany & Kosner deals with medical malpractice cases across a wide array of medical incidents. Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care provider to give a patient treatment that meets a generally accepted standard of care as defined by the medical community, resulting in an injury to the patient. We have notable experience working with people who suffered from a diverse variety of ailments who have been subsequently injured by nurses, doctors, and dentists.

People who see emergency room doctors may be especially at risk. I’ve seen a lot of critical mistakes happen in the emergency room that resulted in medical malpractice. ER physicians are “a jack of all trades and a master of none,” meant to treat a wide spectrum of illnesses and rule out conditions that could be imminently lethal before sending a patient home for outpatient follow-up. Complications arise when physicians in the emergency department fail to order consultations with specialists to be performed before the patient goes home. When an ER doctor refers the patient to an outpatient consultant after they go home, but doesn’t make sure that the patient sees the specialist in the hospital before being sent home, the results can be devastating. This mistake is echoed across many sub-specialties of medicine and the results often lead to tragedy.

What should patients know about avoiding medical injuries?

  • Vet your doctors on the internet whenever possible. There’s a lot of information and reviews about physicians that’s easily accessible online. This may give you an idea of other patient’s experiences told in their own words.
  • However, it’s important to remember that if a doctor has positive reviews, it might not be enough to paint a complete picture and subsequently give you false confidence that a doctor is more qualified than they really are.
  • If you’re seeing a specialist, search to see if that physician has been published in peer-reviewed medical journals. It’s a fairly easy thing to do and can shed light on an endorsement of a physician by a highly educated panel.
  • If you believe that you’ve suffered medical malpractice or have questions about something that happened to you, it’s your right to talk to an attorney. Get in contact with us for a consultation today.

Has COVID-19 changed the field of medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice insurance rates have gone up over the past year, partially due to the significant pressure that was placed on hospitals and doctors because of the pandemic. But will it have an impact on the viability of certain medical malpractice cases?

We’re only just now emerging from the pandemic, and many areas in the United States are still actively besieged by COVID. It’s too early to tell if COVID-19 will have ramifications for the entire medical malpractice legal field, though I do not envision that it’ll have a large impact on unrelated cases. COVID-19 medical malpractice claims are starting to circulate, but are difficult to pursue in the current environment and sympathy for the chaos of the pandemic. Claims that arise out of a doctor’s failure to diagnose and treat COVID-19 may not be attractive cases to litigate, though some cases may focus on a medical malpractice incident that happened alongside their infection. It’s too soon to tell how these cases will play out, but for now, these lawsuits will occupy only a small sliver of the medical malpractice cases being heard across the country.

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