Patients often seem to assume that doctors and surgeons are nothing less than miracle workers. Maybe they've heard people praise modern medicine too many times. Maybe they've watched the countless TV shows where doctors seem to do the impossible with ease.
For whatever reason, they assume that they have to have a good outcome. If they don't, they then assume that someone made a mistake and they can sue for medical malpractice. After all, if doctors are supposed to be perfect, isn't any poor result the evidence of an error?
The truth, of course, is that not all patients get the outcomes they want. Doctors cannot save every life, heal every injury or cure every disease. Many times, even when they do their very best, things do not work out the way they wanted.
That does not mean medical professionals did anything that warrants a lawsuit. As one medical expert put it so well: "Medical malpractice occurs when a health-care provider deviates from the recognized 'standard of care' in the treatment of a patient...However, experiencing a bad outcome isn't always proof of medical negligence."
The underlying message is this: Bad outcomes happen. Medicine isn't perfect. Doctors may never come close to negligence, even when patients, friends and family members all think that the outcome should have been different. It's just not always possible.
In a lot of cases, doctors know that there are inherent risks and they tell the patients about these risks in advance. A complicated surgical procedure could lead to paralysis or death, even when the doctor offers the highest possible standard of care. That risk simply exists when working on things like the spine, the heart or the brain.
The human body is fragile. Modern medicine is far better than what we had decades ago. It has made a lot of strides. But there are still many things doctors cannot accomplish. Holding them to an inhuman standard when they're working on fragile human patients is simply unfair.
This is the reason that a lot of medical malpractice cases fail. Unable to see through their heartbreak and sorrow, family members often look for someone to blame. They decide that the medical staff gets that blame, whether that decision has merit or not. Then they want to sue and seek compensation and closure, even when the doctors did nothing wrong.
If a patient or a family has threatened you with a lawsuit, make sure you know your legal rights and all of the options you have. This is a stressful and frightening time, but it helps to understand how you can protect yourself from fraudulent claims.