One would like to believe that if a patient is injured due to the negligent acts of a physician, other doctors who were aware of the negligence would support the patient’s efforts to receive compensation. After all, we expect doctors to always place a priority on the best interests of patients, even if those patients are not their own. Moreover, by not calling out substandard care, doctors are turning a blind eye to the potential of more patients suffering preventable injuries.
But unfortunately, cultural norms in the medical profession make doctors reticent about reporting poor quality care or even obvious mistakes. And this fact was recently substantiated by a story published in tandem by ProPublica and NPR, in which a now-retired surgeon admits that he lied on the stand when questioned about a colleague’s performance.
In the case in question, the retired surgeon’s colleague had operated on a patient who subsequently suffered a stroke and became permanently disabled. The patient filed a medical malpractice suit. In court, the retired surgeon testified that he was unaware of his colleague ever providing substandard care. But in reality, the retired surgeon had long questioned his colleague’s abilities. And other patients had suffered injuries connected to operations conducted by the colleague.
The retired surgeon now says that it is a common practice for doctors to cover for peers who are being sued for malpractice. And this fact is widely known by attorneys who represent doctors.
What this means is that if you have been injured by a negligent physician and you want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you could benefit by having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney represent your interests. An attorney could act on your behalf and help you decide on the best course of action to take in an effort to secure appropriate compensation for your injuries.
Source: ProPublica, “Doctor Confesses: I Lied to Protect Colleague in Malpractice Suit,” Marshall Allen, Sept. 23, 2016