Medical Malpractice: Holding Doctors and Hospitals Accountable

440,000 people die each year as a result of preventable medical errors.  This is equivalent to the entire population of the City of Richmond dying TWICE each year due to medical negligence!  These are people in our community, our family, our friends.

At Cuthbert Law Offices, we fight Medical Malpractice.  We take our work seriously and your loss personally.  We live and work in this community too.  We want to see the safest and best quality of care being delivered to our community on a regular basis.  How do we do that?  By holding doctors and hospitals accountable for their mistakes.

Despite the 440,000 preventable deaths each year, insurance companies are working hard in the U.S. Congress and the Virginia legislature to limit health care accountability when patients are harmed or killed by medical negligence.

In Virginia, we already have a cap on Medical Malpractice recoveries.  Essentially, what this means is that no matter how much harm a doctor or hospital causes, their liability (accountability) will be limited to the cap amount.  Currently the cap amount is $2.15 million dollars.  This may seem like a lot, but let’s put it in the context of a permanently brain damaged child who will need specialized health care for the rest of his life.  What if the brain damaged child is expected to need $5 million dollars in future medical care?  The negligent doctor or hospital will not be held accountable for any damages exceeding $2.15 million dollars.

You may be thinking, “this seems like a raw deal.  What other private sector worker gets this special protection from accountability?”  None.  Mechanics don’t get this special protection.  School bus drivers don’t get it.  Neither do construction workers or taxi drivers.  None of us gets this special protection from our own mistakes.  The rest of us are all held accountable, regardless of whether we mean well or if we try extra hard.

So why do doctors and hospitals get special protection from accountability that the rest of us don’t get? Money. Health care providers have successfully lobbied the Virginia legislature to give them special protection from accountability regardless of how devastating or careless the mistake.

The Facts:

  • 440,000 patients die every year from preventable medical errors.  [Journal of Patient Safety]
  • Preventable medical errors cost our country tens of billions of dollars a year.  [Institute of Medicine]
  • One in three patients who are admitted to the hospital will experience a medical error.  [Health Affairs]
  • Studies of wrong site, wrong surgery, wrong patient procedures show that “never events” are happening at an alarming rate of up to 40 times per week in U.S. hospitals.  [Archives of Surgery]
  • Medical negligence lawsuits amount to just one-half of one percent of all health care costs.  [Congressional Budget Office]
  • Medical negligence cases represent well under 2 percent of all civil cases.  [National Center for State Courts]
  • Researchers at Harvard University found that 97 percent of cases were meritorious, concluding, “Portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.”  [New England Journal of Medicine]

Cuthbert Law Offices took this issue to the Supreme Court of Virginia in a case arising out of the death of a local school teacher who had been treated in the Emergency Department at Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, VA.  After we tried the case to a Petersburg jury and received a substantial verdict, the trial court reduced the jury’s verdict to the amount of the cap.  We appealed, arguing that the cap is unconstitutional; that the jury’s verdict is sacred; that powerful lobbies should not have the ability to defile the sanctity of the jury’s verdict.  However, the Supreme Court of Virginia held that Virginians only have the right to a jury, not to its verdict.  Pulliam v. Coastal Emergency Servs. of Richmond, Inc., 257 Va. 1, 15, 509 S.E.2d 307, 315 (1999).  This was a terrible triumph for the multi-billion dollar health care companies at the expense of everyday Virginians.  However, we will keep fighting for the people of Virginia.

We take our work seriously and your loss personally.  Let us help you fight to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for medical malpractice.  We know what we are doing and we would like to put our expertise to work for you.

 

Contact our Virginia Medical Malpractice Lawyers

At Cuthbert Law Offices we specialize medical malpractice by negligent doctors.  Email us at lawyers@cuthbertlaw.com or phone us at 1-804-733-3100.  We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Posted in: Medical Malpractice

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