In the good old days, about a decade ago, if a new restaurant opened, a customer had to eat there to find out what the food was like. Today, people comb photos and impressions from user reviews on popular websites and apps before they step foot in a restaurant. Some people would never think of booking a room, a dinner reservation, or even watching a new TV show without reading user reviews first. Now, some prospective patients are taking the same approach to doctors, reviewing their malpractice history before deciding whether or not to sign up.
A recent article from Consumer Reports details some of the problems associated with deciding on a doctor strictly by user reviews and their medical malpractice history. Medical malpractice lawsuits alone do not provide a clear picture of quality, safety, and patient care. There are many reasons a doctor may be named in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
It could because they were involved in the procedure, but another healthcare provider made the mistake. In medical malpractice lawsuits, it is common practice to name all the individuals and entities involved, to make sure the relevant parties are on notice, and the statute of limitations does not expire. During the discovery process and before trial, some individuals may be released from the lawsuit.
In other cases, a doctor facing malpractice charges may settle the case rather than have a court find them liable for their mistake as part of the public record. Settling a case before trial may allow the injured patient to receive compensation for their injury, without the doctor or hospital admitting fault.
According to the article, ‘When to Worry If Your Doctor Was Sued For Medical Malpractice,' one malpractice claim does not mean much. However, a pattern of medical malpractice payouts should give you cause for concern. According to Matthew Wynia, M.D., director of the center for bioethics and humanities at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, “Three malpractice cases, five malpractice cases, eight malpractice cases, at some point, you start to wonder.”
Statistically, relatively few physicians have more than one medical malpractice payout. Research of the National Practitioner Data Bank found that about 15% of the physicians practicing since 1990 had at least one malpractice payout; however, less than 2% had more than one payout related to medical malpractice.
Unfortunately, if you did want to review the malpractice history of your doctor, you may find it difficult to find a reliable source of information online. Reviews of state medical board websites may have limited or incomplete information that does not help a consumer make educated choices for their health care needs. There are also a number of doctor review websites; however, the information available on these user-driven sites is not always reliable, and could include reviews from people who have never even seen the doctor.
According to a 2012 study titled, “The Cost of Satisfaction,” patients who reported higher satisfaction with their healthcare were actually more likely to be hospitalized, had higher health care costs, and were even more likely to die. Patients who were dissatisfied may have complained about scheduling problems, or gave a poor review because they were not prescribed the narcotics they were hoping for.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of suspected malpractice, the Gilman & Bedigian team of experienced attorneys is fully equipped to handle the complex process of bringing a medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensation, so you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life.