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A 2021 study by the National Opinion Research Center found that among the general public, around 84% of people trust the opinions and recommendations of doctors. Studies also show that patients who have long-standing relationships with their doctors tend to have better outcomes and are more satisfied with their care.
The downside of this level of trust and familiarity is that when patients are harmed by their doctors, especially through malpractice, they’re often reluctant to sue. That’s because they don’t want to cause discomfort in their relationship, or even see them lose their jobs and/or careers.
If you’re hesitant to file a malpractice claim because you’re worried your doctor will lose his job, here’s what you need to know.
Malpractice lawsuits are more common than you think in the medical profession. In 2018, the American Medical Association reported that out of all doctors in America, one in three has been sued for malpractice. By the time doctors reach age 55, half will have had a malpractice lawsuit filed against them. This doesn’t mean you should be reluctant to trust any doctor, however; not all of these malpractice claims will be valid.
While doctors can be fired for malpractice, most aren’t. Malpractice usually only results in termination when it’s an ongoing trend—i.e., a doctor has been sued multiple times for malpractice in a short time—or if a specific incident was extremely dangerous, negligent, or egregious—i.e., a surgeon ignoring medical charts and amputating the wrong body part.
When doctors commit egregious malpractice, they may be disciplined by the state medical board. In Ohio, this is public information. If you are worried about your doctor’s history of negligent mistakes, you can look up your doctor’s information, including their license number/status and whether they’ve been disciplined by the State Medical Board of Ohio.
You can also look up healthcare providers, including private clinics and hospitals.
Doctors are among the most well-paid professionals in America. However, that doesn’t mean their longtime patients don’t feel bad about the idea of suing them and forcing them to pay for all their damages out of pocket.
If that is your concern as well, thankfully that usually doesn’t happen. Doctors in private practice typically have malpractice insurance. In fact, around 30% of doctors pay more than $10,000 in malpractice insurance annually. Doctors who work for hospitals and large healthcare conglomerates are also often covered by their employer’s malpractice insurance.
Doctors rarely commit malpractice intentionally. Some doctors may make negligent mistakes because they failed to update their practice with changing guidelines, protocols, and recommendations in the medical community. Others may be practicing based on outdated medical knowledge and unknowingly putting their patients at risk because of ineffective or even dangerous treatments.
By filing a malpractice lawsuit, you’re not only protecting your right to compensation, but you also may be protecting other patients from similar bad outcomes. Doctors who are sued for malpractice are often disciplined, and that means they must change any deficient aspects of their practices that caused harm to you to comply with the state medical board’s requirements.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we understand how important the doctor-patient relationship is. The more trusting patients are of their doctors, the more likely they are to take their illnesses and treatments seriously, and that includes taking medication as directed and following all their doctors’ orders.
However, we also know that these relationships can be strained when doctors are negligent and harm their patients. Our Ohio medical malpractice attorneys build claims for injured patients with sensitivity and care. We work hard to help our clients get the money they’re owed while also respecting the existing relationships they often have with their long-term healthcare providers.
If you or someone you love was harmed by a doctor, we want to help. Contact us anytime for a free consultation.
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