February 19, 2004 at 7:37 pm #108743EM momParticipant
I got this article through a listserve that I am involved in and thought it was a very interesting comparison. Interesting how physicians are held to a different standard than other professionals. Just curious as to what you all think!
The Daily News
February 12, 2004
Harry Rapkin must be grateful that there is no such thing as suing a
judge. Rapkin is the Florida circuit judge who passed up an opportunity
Dec. 30 to throw Joseph Smith into the clink for violating probation on
drug conviction. Smith is now the suspect in the abduction and murder
11-year-old Carlie Brucia.
Legal experts say Rapkin did nothing terribly wrong in not jailing
for falling behind in paying court fines. But the Brucia family is
understandably outraged. Had Smith been confined, their daughter might
alive. “If Rapkin were allowed to be sued, a jury so horrified by what
happened to that poor little girl might find fault with the judge –
though he may have been justified in his ruling concerning Smith,” said
malpractice defense lawyer Sanford Gold.
But judges cannot be sued. If it were allowed, our already contorted
costly justice system would be even more so. It would be like, well,
Consider, for example, what has been happening in the field of
Every day, thousands of babies are born in America. Some have problems.
Sometimes the doctor is at fault, sometimes not. All too often, the
obstetrician has done nothing wrong, yet the baby has a defect or dies.
The distraught parents sue, and a jury, swayed by emotion, rules
the doctor. A career is needlessly ruined.
Today, a combination of runaway juries, pro-plaintiff judges and greedy
trial lawyers who sue at the drop of a stethoscope has forced the
profession to rewrite its rules. Doctors now practice defensive
using unnecessary tests and procedures to avoid being sued.
who are sued more than just about any other type of doctor, have had to
embrace defensive medicine big time.
Just look at the explosion in Caesarean-section births in this country.
1970, only 5% of babies were delivered through this procedure. Today,
nearly 25% of U.S. births are C-sections. It’s the most common major
operation in the country, with about 1 million performed per year. The
World Health Organization advises there’s no reason to have “more than
10%-15% Caesarean-section births.” But when something goes wrong with
natural births, doctors get sued because they didn’t intervene and
operate. So they’ve learned: When in doubt, apply the scalpel.
Many young doctors won’t specialize in obstetrics. They fear the threat
suits and wince at malpractice insurance costs, which run around
a year. Last summer, Manhattan’s Elizabeth Seton Childbearing Center,
which practiced natural childbirth, had to close when its malpractice
premiums rocketed to $2 million.
Litigation reformer Philip Howard has a solution: Create a special
court. Replace sympathy-prone juries with experienced judges
in medical procedures who would limit the size of pain-and-suffering
awards and compensate plaintiffs according to a preestablished formula,
depending on the injury.
Lotto-size jury awards would be supplanted by settlements that are fair
patients and doctors. Incompetent doctors would be sanctioned but
mistakes would not end a career.
Such a system would relieve obstetricians and all doctors of enormous
stress and let them make decisions in the best interests of patients.
would end the wasteful practice of defensive medicine, which costs our
economy an estimated $50 billion to $100 billion a year. It would allow
doctors to do what they think is right.
If you want people to do their best, you can’t keep suing them when
they do.February 19, 2004 at 10:04 pm #108745efex101Participant
This is exactly why no matter how much I enjoy my ob/gyn rotation I will *not* even remotely consider this specialty period. I will not risk all the time, effort, money, and what my family has sacrificed to give it all up and possibly lose my license over a frivolous lawsuit. I hate to say this but this is the reason why many ob docs have stopped delivering babies…if something is not done soon there will be a huge lack of obstetricians.February 19, 2004 at 11:59 pm #108747DrWuStar*Participant
i was first drawn to medicine by the opportunity to make a difference in women’s health. i really enjoy working with women and educating people about their own health. i liked the idea of delivering babies and being a part of the happiest hopsital ward. but like efex, the more i learn about the reality of a career in ob/gyn, the less i think i will end up in one. between malpractice and the pretty family-unfriendly lifestyle, it’s looking worse and worse. which is really a shame, since i think many women like myself (an probably some men too) are drawn to this specialty and would be great at it.
howard dean has also proposed some good ideas for malpractice reform based on the system in maine. a committee of expert physicians reviews any claim at the beginning of the case and determines whether or not it merrits a trial. from what i understand, this system has worked well in reducing the amount of frivilous malpractice litigation in maine.February 20, 2004 at 12:09 am #108749EM momParticipant
The problem is OB/gyn is by no means the only specialty this is happening to-it is just the one mentioned in the article (and probably has the highest rates of frivolous lawsuits). But at least where I am (Texas-a crisis state for sure!) everyone who sees the patient gets sued…ER who sees them initially in the ED, family practice, internal medicine, any consultant, etc…doesn’t even matter if there was ANY wrongdoing-if the name is in the chart they get sued 😮 (this has happened to more than a few residents here). This is a huge issue for EVERY specialty not just OB/gyn! And yes…I will be steaming mad if when I am ready to have my second child I can’t find an OB/gyn to do my C-section because they have all quit due to outrageous malpractice premiums 😡 !February 20, 2004 at 9:04 pm #108751**DONOTDELETE**Participant
One of my favorite soap box issues!! But here I will (try to) be brief.
I am a radiologist. Depending on the state we are the “most sued” or a close second to the OB/GYNs. Among my colleauges it is not a question of “if” you get sued but “when.” I know several good doctors who have been plagued by nusiance suits and some sub par docs who have never been sued. What’s the logic in that?
I think at the heart of the problem is the misconception by the public that if the outcome is poor, then somebody did something wrong. I think many people cannot fully grasp the idea that doctors and other medical professionals can do everything right and the outcome can still be bad. People just die. Complications happen.
And then there are the lawyers… I have no polite language for this one!!! 😡 😡 😡August 5, 2015 at 4:20 pm #145827Truth_DoctorParticipant
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