Why are Medical Malpractice cases more difficult than other injury cases?

Posted on Oct 05, 2012

In a medical malpractice case sometimes the different doctors, hospitals or HMOs being sued will blame each other.  Most of the time, they will have a joint defense up to a point.  For example, they will say the patient's catastrophic injuries, paralysis or brain damage were not caused by negligence or medical malpractice, or the patient's injuries are not as severe as alleged, or that the patient won't need as much medical treatment as claimed, etc.

In this med mal case involving an anesthesiologist and a surgeon, both physicians started to blame the other for the surgical mistake.  One of the doctors talked to another physician at the hospital (who was not involved in the care but who was on the hospital's panel that investigated bad outcomes occuring at the hospital).

The patient's medical malpractice lawyer subpoenaed the hospital doctor to testify at a deposition to learn the facts - what this physician witness knew and what the defendant doctor told him.

The hospital lawyers told the hospital physician not to attend the deposition even though he received a valid subpoena (and had information that could be critical to the case).  As they usually do, the hospital lawyers said the information was privileged.  While the analysis or conclusions about what happened during the surgery may have been privileged, the facts certainly were not.

Initially the judge held both the hospital doctor and the hospital's lawyers in contempt of court for failing to attend the deposition.  But he later held just the lawyers in contempt and fined them.

While this case made news because the lawyers were held in contempt and fined, its really an every day example of medical malpractice litigation and the lengths hospitals, HMO's and healthcare corporations go through to prevent patients from getting the truth.



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