I remember as a young lawyer, a deposition preparation meeting I was having
with a medical expert in a Missouri wrongful death and
medical malpractice case. We were discussing the tragic and preventable death of a 36 year
old man from
bacterial pneumonia. The case was against a Missouri hospital and its
emergency room (ER) doctor – the ER doctor, you see, kept sending this young man home despite
his repeated attempts to seek medical care at the hospital ER over the
Christmas and New Year holidays, the peak time for bacterial pneumonia
to strike patients.
The critical care expert said something that I will never forget, and at
the time as a young lawyer I just chuckled about it, “If you want
to stay healthy, stay OUT of the hospital!” Those words have stayed
with me over the years since that meeting and deposition. As funny as
those words may have seemed to me at the time...they are sadly and tragically
on at least a certain level, in certain cases, 100% true.
Let me make myself clear – I am not a true believer. What do I mean
by that, you ask? I mean that I simply do not believe that health care
providers – doctors, nurses, chiropractors, aides, and yes even
hospitals, HMOs and nursing homes – are all evil, all bad or all
incompetent. Now, I once may have believed that the health care providers
I was suing on behalf of Missouri medical malpractice victims were incompetent;
but even that sentiment has given way over the years to a more reasoned
and I think simple thought process. Simply put, health care providers
are just like you and me – they are human. And, by our very nature,
we humans make mistakes; boy, do we! Now, in my job as a Missouri and
St. Louis medical malpractice and medical negligence attorney, my mistakes,
omissions and oversights do not cost my clients their limbs or their lives.
Health Care Providers Should Be Accountable For Malpractice
Unfortunately, because health care providers have chosen to enter the field
and profession that they have, they must understand and should appreciate
that their mistakes, their omissions, their oversights can and often times
will cause patients real, irreversible and devastating harm. That is a
fact. Whether health care providers accept that fact is a different blog
discussion altogether. That is why conscientious health care providers
(just like conscientious automobile owners out there) should and do carry
medical and nursing malpractice insurance – to protect the negligent
health care provider, its employer, and their patients when that unthinkable
occasion occurs, and a medical mistake causes harm.
I understand that some health care providers altruistically say they do
what they do, because they want to help others. That is quite frankly
why I do what I do – to help others... and I love what I do. However,
if doing what I do meant not being able to pay my bills, or feed my wife
and children, then the truth is that I would be doing something else that
did. There is no shame in that. The reality is that many, if not the overwhelming
majority, of the medical and health care professionals out there decide
to do what they do because they love what they do (operate on hearts,
brains, broken bones, take care of ER patients in a fast-paced environment,
provide nursing care to newborns, help deliver babies, etc.), and because
that job pays them very, very well.
Now, back to the experts words that I remember so well. I was reminded
of those words recently, as I was reading a
CNN article chronicling the 10 most often made and most preventable medical mistakes.
No matter where you live, if you want to avoid becoming a victim of medical
malpractice, you need to read this story. Reading it will likely not prevent
a doctor or nurse from making a mistake, however, it will give you vital
information to try to protect you and your loved ones.
If you live in Missouri or the St. Louis area, and believe you or a loved
one have been the victim of medical malpractice or medical negligence,
please contact Millikan Wright LLC at (314) 621-0622.