Oct 5 2016 0

Report: Doctor lied to protect colleague in medical malpractice suit

A physician admitted that he lied under oath during the medical malpractice trial of his colleague.

Under Oklahoma law, there are several key points a plaintiff must prove in a medical malpractice claim in order to collect damages. Those points include the following:

  • The plaintiff was under the defendant’s care.
  • The defendant did not deliver the standard of care.
  • The breach in care led to the plaintiff’s injuries.

In order to prove that the defendant strayed from the norm, the law requires an expert to testify unless the negligence happens to be grossly evident. Typically, that expert is a doctor who practices the same field of medicine and treats the same type of patient.

A recent report from NPR tells the story of the unthinkable: a physician lied during testimony in order to protect his partner from a medical malpractice claim.

The case

A patient had undergone an operation and, as a result, suffered a stroke as well as permanent disability. The patient sued the physician. In court, one of the physician’s partners, a surgeon from South Dakota, was called to the stand. An attorney asked if the surgeon felt that the defendant had provided substandard medical care, and the surgeon replied that he had not.

The problem is that the surgeon had questioned the doctor’s abilities in the past. The surgeon knew that the physician’s patients had experienced injuries. However, he lied in order to protect his colleague, a decision he now, decades later, says he regrets. The case ended in favor of the physician.

Coming clean

As NPR reports, the surgeon wrote a column for the local newspaper about his transgression. Now retired, he even works for a medical malpractice attorney, the same lawyer who had represented the patient in the case in question. He serves as a patient advocate and believes that the current system of holding negligent medical providers accountable – through lawsuits – needs improvement.

A significant issue

The surgeon told ProPublica that he felt pressure to protect his colleague. In fact, ProPublica has found that the medical industry as a whole may have issues with the truth. The organization conducted a survey that found that in more than 1,000 people, one in five who had suffered injuries as a result of a medical mistake were ever told about the harm. What’s more, in approximately half of these incidents, the disclosure about the incident only came after the person filed a complaint or lawsuit.

People who experience medical malpractice deserve to be heard and to be able to collect compensation for the losses they suffer. Anyone who has concerns about this topic should speak with an attorney in Oklahoma.

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