What Happens After Doctors Are Accused Of Medical Malpractice? January 5, 2024.
Patients put their trust in doctors to correctly diagnose, treat, and care for them. But, doctors are human too and they can make mistakes. These mistakes can lead to dangerous or even deadly consequences for the patient.
Medical malpractice impacts the victim’s mental, physical, and financial health. Significant injuries to the patient can lead to permanent physical disabilities and severe mental health problems. The injured patient will also have to pay for medical expenses out of their own pocket.
Many medical malpractice cases are not filed because the victim is worried about what will happen to their doctor. It is especially hard when the patient has been seeing that doctor for several years. This shouldn't deter the patient from filing a claim against their doctor. If they don’t then it can lead to a huge financial burden, mostly if they can't work because of the injuries. So what happens to a doctor after they are accused of medical malpractice?
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to when a healthcare professional is negligent or does not act reasonably. This negligence can lead to the patient suffering serious injuries.
Common types of medical malpractice include:
How Does Medical Malpractice Impact the Patient?
Medical malpractice impacts the victim’s mental, physical, and financial health. A big impact of medical malpractice is hurting the patient’s physical well-being. These physical impacts can cause the victim to not be able to do simple activities they were once able to do. It can also impact their family if the victim is not able to care for themselves. This causes their family members to become caregivers or the family will have to pay for a full-time caregiver.
Mental and physical health are very intertwined. When someone's physical health deteriorates, likely, their mental health will also decline. Common mental health problems that form from the trauma of medical malpractice include depression, severe anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Medical malpractice also affects the victim’s financial health. In the United States, the cost of medical care is the most expensive in the world. Extensive medical costs leave many victims in a financially unstable place. It makes it worse when the victim is the breadwinner of their family, and now they have to find a different way to make an income.
Does the Doctor Always Lose Their License After a Medical Malpractice Case?
Usually, medical malpractice cases are civil, as opposed to criminal cases. According to the United States Courts, a civil case is when there are two parties: the plaintiff and the defendant. In medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff would be the patient, and the defendant would be the doctor or another healthcare professional. In these civil cases, the patient needs to be able to prove that their injuries were caused by the doctor’s negligence. Medical malpractice cases are typically not considered criminal, because the medical professional did not do it on purpose or with malice. For this reason, doctors often do not face jail time or lose their licenses over common medical malpractice cases.
Medical professionals are required to have medical malpractice insurance. This insurance would provide coverage for them in the chance that they are sued in a medical malpractice case. This insurance covers their liability in a patient’s injury or death.
When are Doctors Disciplined for Medical Malpractice?
The State Medical Board of Ohio has the important role of licensing medical professionals as well as taking disciplinary actions against them when needed. The State Medical Board works to investigate medical malpractice claims.
Examples of when the State Medical Board will step in and investigate the claim include:
- Sexual misconduct
- Criminal charges
- Practicing medicine without a license
- Impaired while practicing
- Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol
There are several disciplinary actions that could be taken after a State Medical Board investigation.
- License probation
- License suspension
- License revocation
Fines from the State Medical Board can range anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. Reprimand is essentially a letter that warns the doctor of the medical board’s concerns. License Probation means that the medical professional’s license is monitored for a period of time. A license suspension refers to the medical professional not being able to practice medicine at all for a set amount of time. After the time has passed, they may be able to practice again, but they are closely monitored. License revocation is the highest disciplinary action from the State Medical Board. Revocation means that their license to practice medicine will be permanently taken away.
Should I Be Concerned About Filing a Claim Against My Doctor?
Many victims of medical malpractice do not end up filing claims because they fear that they will hurt the doctor’s career and livelihood. As we went over earlier, most doctors won't lose their license the first time for medical malpractice. If they do commit medical malpractice with malice, or get sued multiple times it is safer for all patients if their license is revoked.
Another concern that victims have for their doctors is the financial burden. But, doctors don’t pay for malpractice settlements or verdicts out of their own pockets. That is why they have medical malpractice insurance to protect them from paying out of pocket.
Victims of medical malpractice have the right to seek compensation for the damage caused by medical professionals' negligence. Filing a medical malpractice claim may help the victim recover financial losses from their injuries. Victims can also recover non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering, disability, and emotional distress. Filing a medical malpractice claim will also hold the doctor accountable for their negligent actions. This will make sure that the doctor's negligence does not injure more patients.
What Happens After I File a Claim Against My Doctor?
There is a lengthy legal process once the claim is filed. It is important to hire a trusted medical malpractice attorney, who has dealt with many medical malpractice cases before. These cases require a wealth of medical knowledge, high attention to detail, great communication, and extensive trial skills
The first step of the legal process is discovery. In this step, the patient’s medical records are gathered and looked through. These medical records are reviewed by experts who will help determine who is at fault for the injuries.
Then, depositions of all healthcare providers involved in the negligence takes place. A deposition is a testimony that is under oath. This is done to uncover facts about the case.
Evidence is gathered by both sides and they will prepare for trial if a settlement is not agreed upon. Medical records are important evidence because they will show the timeline of events and what the doctor did to cause the medical malpractice.
Most medical malpractice cases don't make it to court. A lot of the time a settlement is agreed on before court takes place. A settlement is when the defense and plaintiff come to a resolution, which ends the case. On the other hand, a verdict is when a jury or a judge decides if the medical professional is innocent or guilty. This happens after listening to evidence and testimony during the trial.
If you are filing a medical malpractice case, you should expect that it will take around two to five years from start to finish.
Can I Check if my Doctor Has Been Sued Previously?
You can see if your doctor has previously been sued by going to the Ohio State License Lookup. From there you can click doc.info.org. Then you can search your physician’s last name and what state they practice in. The background information, license status, and disciplinary record will show for your physician.
How Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Negligent doctors need to be held accountable for their actions. If they are not held accountable then they could hurt more people in the future. Don't take on your medical malpractice case by yourself. Instead, contact our experienced Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys.
At the Mellino Law Firm, we understand how medical malpractice incidents are life-changing for families. We pride ourselves in our medical knowledge, our extensive trial skills, and our great communication. If you experienced medical malpractice, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Our two attorneys, two paralegals, and our legal nurse will review the facts in your case to see what we can do for you.
Call our office at (440) 333-3800 or fill out our online contact form and we will get back to you as soon as we can.