Do Doctors Ever Admit a Mistake?
The answer is generally no, but it is also a bit more complicated. Insurance companies, adjusters, and hospitals all have a stake in a doctor not being found liable for medical malpractice, and they will put great pressure on a doctor to remain silent. For those reasons, it is rarity that doctors ever admit that they have made a mistake.
The Florida Supreme Court recently overturned a ruling that focused on a neurologist’s use of testimony from another subsequent treating physician, who stated that he would not have treated the patient differently, as reported by the Jacksonville Business Journal. We will explain more of Ruby Saunders, etc., et al., vs. Willis Dickens, M.D., (Fla. July 10, 2014) below.
Walter Saunders initiated a medical-malpractice suit that centered on how he was treated by neurologist Willis Dickens and his eventual physical impairments that led him to become a quadriplegic. Because Walter Saunders died as the case was being appealed, his estate continued the lawsuit on his behalf.
The main issue in the case came when Guillermo Pasarin, a neurosurgeon that subsequently treated Saunders, testified that “he would not have treated Saunders differently if Dickens had earlier ordered a cervical MRI in 2003.”
Cervical issues were an important part of the case, and the testimony of a subsequent treating physician could easily insulate a doctor from liability by making it seem as though the doctor did conform to a reasonably prudent physician standard, while shifting the burden of proof to the plaintiff or victim.
In an earlier blog we discussed the elements for determining if a medical malpractice claim exists, which included the “reasonably prudent physician standard.”
However, the Supreme Court overturned the Fourth District Court of Appeals’ ruling and stated that a “physician cannot ‘insulate himself’ from liability for negligence by relying on such testimony from a subsequent treating doctor.”
Each treating physician is responsible for acting in a reasonably prudent manner, and this case represents an important development in favor of medical malpractice victims.
How Does This Change Medical Malpractice?
This ruling means that doctors cannot rely on the testimony of subsequent treating physicians to merely insulate themselves from liability, and as such, it helps victims of medical malpractice to potentially have stronger cases.
The video below is about blindness from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which is a form of medical malpractice, and Attorney Richard M. Shapiro explains a doctor’s state of mind concerning liability in medical malpractice lawsuits:
Shapiro Law Group – Medical Malpractice Attorneys Serving the Tampa Bay Area