Last time, we began looking at a lawsuit filed against Michigan State University for its alleged failure to supervise a physician accused of sexually assault female patients during medical examinations and procedures. As we noted last time, one of the areas of focus in the litigation is the university’s new informed consent policy.
When we talk about medical malpractice on this blog, we are usually speaking specifically about the liability a doctor faces for acting negligently with respect to his or her professional duties. Medical malpractice, in this sense, is only one part of the total picture of liability for harm to a patient, though. In many cases, it is not only the physician that can face liability for patient harm, but also the hospital staff that assisted in the medical care or treatment and the hospital which employed the physician.
Last time, we looked briefly at a federal measure being proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives which would put a cap of $250,000 on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. That measure, as some readers may know, is one of a number of Republican proposals aimed at reforming the civil justice system on a broader basis at the federal level.
As we mentioned in our last post, law makers in the House of Representatives are reportedly considering a measure that would establish a federal cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.
Michigan readers may know that there is a cap in Michigan on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Non-economic damages refer to damages which are not readily measurable in monetary terms, and include things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium and loss of enjoyment of life.
A recent study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago confirmed what has come to be increasingly obvious to many in the medical field: the threat of litigation doesn’t necessarily motivate physicians to do better work. The lead author of the study says, rather, that it is more likely to lead to the practice of defensive medicine.
Previously, we began looking at the issue of medical mishaps which occur in the context of routine medical procedures. As we noted, routine medical procedures, such as tonsillectomies, are by and large successful and occur without serious incident. In some cases, though, something unexpected occurs and the outcome is not a good one.
One important point that every patient needs to be aware of is that every medical and surgical procedure presents risks to the patient. The nature and seriousness of the risks depends, of course, on various factors, including the patient’s condition, the proposed treatment, the overall health condition of the patient, the resources of the medical facility where treatment is being offered, the skill of the doctor and other staff, and so on.
In our last post, we commented briefly on the variation between clinical guidelines for breast cancer screening and the importance of physicians using discretion in applying these guidelines. We also noted that the application of screening guidelines should take into account research, and can even change on account of research.
Medical professionals use a wide variety of tests to screen and diagnose cancer, and make use of a variety of clinical guidelines to determine when diagnostic testing is appropriate and when it is unnecessary. These guidelines vary depending not only on the research that is taken into consideration, but also on the organization.