A traffic court judge in California got a surprise this week when the defendant, a local surgeon, appeared to be operating while attending court.
The plastic surgeon—Dr. Scott Green of Sacramento—argued to the judge that he could do both things at once. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many courts are having defendants videoconference in for hearings. When Dr. Green logged onto the Zoom call, the judge and court staff could see what appeared to be blood on his surgical gloves, according to an ABC 10 news report.
The judge ultimately postponed the traffic court hearing, saying he was concerned about the patient’s welfare. The doctor could potentially be held responsible for negligence in a medical malpractice suit if the patient were hurt or the surgery did not turn out as planned, according to the news report.
Medical malpractice suits are part of the health care industry today, and doctors generally carry medical malpractice insurance in case they make a mistake. While all people can make mistakes, doctors included, they are held to a higher standard of professional conduct in keeping patients safe. Doctors have to follow a code of conduct mandated by their state licensing boards in order to maintain their licensure, and if evidence shows that they have broken it, they could be liable for medical malpractice.
What are some common causes for medical malpractice cases? We’ll discuss a few below.
Negligence generally means that a person knew or should have known that they were required to provide a certain standard of care, but failed to do so. This can include items like providing substandard care, not checking on a patient often enough and allowing them to become injured during a hospital stay, or doing something else during a medical procedure.
Medical malpractice cases, particularly for older patients, have been increasing in some areas of the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, in part connected to stress on hospital staff. That stress can translate to staff being stretched too thin and providing poor care or neglecting to provide all the care necessary for patients. In one case, a patient had been given medication that made her drowsy, and she needed help using the restroom. There weren’t enough staff members to help her, so she ended up going by herself, fell, and broke a hip. Allowing a heavily medicated patient to use the restroom unattended under these circumstances may constitute negligence, and the medical providers could be liable for her injuries.
Negligence might also occur if a surgery is performed poorly, on the wrong limb, or even on the wrong patient. It can be confusing to keep track of what procedures are routine while you are a patient, but if you are injured by a medical provider, it may be worth consulting a lawyer to see if you have been a victim of negligent medical practice.
Medicine is a challenging field, but doctors are experts. They are thoroughly trained to recognize symptoms and pinpoint causes, but they can make mistakes. This can happen if they fail to order a particular test when the evidence points to a particular condition, or if they grossly miss a disease that they generally could have diagnosed. A patient becoming injured or dying due to a preventable or treatable disease is one of the most tragic cases in the medical malpractice field.
While most of these cases are due to a misidentification of a disease, they can also be applied when a diagnosis is late and is demonstrated to have caused harm because of its lateness, as in a cancer diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can also occur in clinics due to smaller errors, such as misreading blood work, mislabeling test results, or lost test results.
Failure to treat
Doctors all over the world take different types of oaths upon receiving their licenses. In general, the heart of most physician oaths can be traced to Hippocrates, a Greek physician thousands of years ago. That oath has a core tenet: “Do no harm.”
Unfortunately, some doctors don’t live up to that claim in all cases. A medical malpractice case based on failure to treat comes from a situation in which a doctor fails to order the appropriate medical tests, discharges a patient from the hospital too soon, or does not perform a procedure that a patient needs. This can apply to prescribing medications as well, if the loss of the medication has caused serious harm.
Medical malpractice covers a wide range of situations, and each one is unique. Because of the complex nature of the health care system, it’s best to consult a lawyer if you have been injured in medical care or in connection with medical care. With proper documentation and representation, you may be able to make a claim that can help you recover from the damage caused.