Medical malpractice, doctor errors, medical mistakes - these are phrases that no one ever wants to hear. Of course, we all know that everyone makes mistakes, but when a carpenter makes an error, he only needs to fetch a new piece of wood and start over. When a painter makes a mistake, all that’s needed is a new coat of paint. No problem. But when doctors, nurses, hospitals, or nursing homes are negligent, the stakes are dramatically higher. Medical professionals can cause permanent serious injuries to their patients when negligence occurs, and sometimes, doctors must bury their mistakes.
So is it any wonder that people place such great faith and confidence in their medical professionals? Is it just a coincidence that so many years of education and training are necessary before one can be called a doctor? Obviously the answer is that medical professionals play a very important role in our lives. They may help with a cold or flu, but sometimes the right doctor or surgeon can mean the difference between life and death. So we carefully choose our doctors and hospitals because we know how important that choice may prove later. Then we trust and pray that we have made the right choice.
Most times, our trust is not misplaced. We receive the best medical attention available considering the state of medical science. But other times, when a doctor fails to live up to the standards of other medical professionals in the community, our trust may be dramatically and permanently betrayed. We all absolutely have every right in the world to demand that medical professionals do their jobs to the very best of their abilities – without exception. But although doctors hold an important place in our community and in our continued vitality, they are certainly no better that the rest of us. Because of that, and not in spite of that, when they commit medical malpractice, a mistake that affects our lives and the future happiness of our families, they must be held firmly and decisively responsible.
Unfortunately, doctors are no better at taking responsibility for their mistakes than anyone else. In fact, they are often significantly worse. It is exceedingly rare for a hospital or medical provider to step up and agree that an error occurred without a fight. Medical providers are typically insured by large, powerful insurance companies that also have no intention of admitting fault – because to do so would involve paying money damages – the last thing they are interested in doing.