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If the doc admits a mistake was made during surgery, is it okay to ask her to cover my bills without involving an attorney?

Hagerstown, MD |

If a doctor makes a mistake during surgery and admits it (even if it was caught and corrected, but resulted in a week long stay in the hospital for an outpatient procedure), would it be a bad idea to simply ask the doctor to settle without involving attorneys? Can I ask her to cover my out of pocket costs (what insurance didn't pay) rather than going through an attorney for a huge settlement? What is the likelihood the doctor would ever do something like that?

In the hospital, I asked the doctor if I was going to get a bill for this and she said she didn't know, but would "do what she could to help." In addition, the surgery that was to be performed has to be stopped because of the error - I will have to go back for the original surgery at a later date.

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Attorney answers 4


In my experience I have never seen a doctor admit and agree to cover all your medical costs. That doesn't mean it can't happen. The big issue is how you are doing now. If there is no permanency, and the additional operation has resolved the situation, you are fortunate. You can ask her to cover your costs, but she probably won't agree. If you have no further problems , she will report it to her carrier, and they will instruct her to not make any more admissions nor agree to pay, since they will know that if there are no permanent damages, it is difficult to find counsel because of the costs of litigation.



If she says no, would it hurt a potential case to have asked?

Josh P Tolin

Josh P Tolin


no, it never hurts to ask. If she agrees, I can assure you her carrier will want you to sign away any future problems you may have.


You can ask, but you will not likely receive. Best bet is to have a local med mal lawyer investigate.


Not great, but I have heard of doctors taking this approach in rare instances. If you do not have permanency as a result of the surgery that you would not have had otherwise, then it is not worth pursuing anyways. It wouldn't hurt to ask, if this is the scenario. Good luck.

David B. Snyder, Esq.
6876 Buckley Road
Syracuse, NY 13212
Mr. Snyder is licensed to practice in New York and practices Medical Malpractice Plaintiff’s work in Syracuse; he cannot offer legal advice in other states. This answer is meant to be a public service and not an attempt to solicit business. Moreover, my answer cannot be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. Unless I am retained in a matter and have completed a full investigation of the underlying facts and law, I cannot give an opinion on which to rely. Furthermore, unless your matter concerns New York law, I am not licensed to practice or give specific legal advice in your state.


As an attorney who is also a registered nurse, I can say firsthand that physicians and hospital personnel are increasingly being trained to apologize for errors. This may sound like altruism at its finest, however, this training is based on scientific research that has shown that apologizing for errors actually reduces the risk of malpractice claims. An apology, therefore, may be nothing more than an effort to reduce the likelihood that you will sue for any damages to which you may be entitled.

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