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Medical Malpractice

June 16, 2023

By Thomas McCutcheon

A lot of people believe they were injured through medical negligence. A few years ago, it was the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It was the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing every day.

Doctors hate malpractice suits and dislike paying for the insurance they have to carry.

Medical malpractice occurs when a “standard of care” is breached and harm results. Alabama by and large put an end to medical malpractice cases through the state legislature about 20 years ago when they enacted the Alabama Medical Liability Act.

Medical Malpractice

The standard of care is the established rule or ordinary care given or followed by doctors. The rule or standard can be established by the testimony of physician or in certain cases, a medical textbook. I strongly recommend the movie The Verdict starring Paul Newman which is the most realistic lawyer movie I have ever seen.

It used to be that when medical malpractice occurred a lawyer would find a retired doctor to review the facts and the medical documents to determine whether malpractice had occurred. You have to give credit to the medical profession in that everybody doesn’t get a good result, every person is different, and we all die from something. Doctors have a tough job to do, and they have to credit the legislature for putting a stop to medical malpractice cases by and large.

Under the Alabama Medical Liability Act for a medical malpractice case to proceed not only does a person have to have suffered a serious injury, but the exact same type of practicing (not retired) doctor has to say that your doctor committed malpractice. The legislature went on to shield doctors from past mistakes they’ve made. Not only can a jury not hear about the exact same mistakes a doctor has made before, the lawyer can’t even ask the question.

med mal

The court has ruled that an RN who practices in an ICU is not qualified to testify against an RN who testifies in a Cardiac Care Unit or CCU. There was a recent case where a doctor who had founded a board certification program for that particular type of physician but let his dues lapse was disqualified from testifying and the case was dismissed against the doctor.

Not only does the person have to suffer injury, that injury has to have been preventable. In other words, if the ER misses a malignant tumor but you would have died of it anyway, the Alabama Legislature says that’s no harm no foul and you don’t have a case.

People get very excited about medical malpractice cases when they occur but because they are so expensive to litigate it takes a very serious injury and extremely obvious malpractice to even consider taking on such a case.

Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated! 256-764-0112

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