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Lack of Medical Malpractice Safe Harbor Legislation may have a Downside for Doctors Says Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer

May 9, 2011

Atlanta, GA (Law Firm Newswire) May 9, 2011 – In some places in the country, doctors may not be sued for making mistakes. Lately, medical malpractice cases have taken on a different twist.

“At one time, in certain states, if a doctor saw a patient in the ER complaining of chest pains, he or she would take a history and do some basic tests. If the tests showed no indication of a heart problem, the person would be sent home. That would be viewed as practicing good medicine and the doctor could not be sued if the patient died later of a heart attack,” said Robert Webb, an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law.

These days, things are changing in some states, enough so that doctors feel they need to practice defensive medicine to prevent being sued. The same patient from the first example going to the ER in another state would be admitted and run through an endless battery of tests, ostensibly to avoid a lawsuit.

“But really, does it avoid a medical malpractice lawsuit? The answer is, ‘No, it does not,’ and that is largely because no matter how many tests are run, if the person interpreting them makes a mistake or misreads them, there may still be a medical malpractice case filed due to a bad medical outcome,” Webb said.

The dilemma today is that many doctors feel they are boxed into a corner when it comes to diagnosing issues and are bordering on the paranoid about ensuring they do all they can in their power to get things right and help a patient. However, legally speaking, the frantic due diligence that may be performed by doctors not wanting to be sued for med mal is a waste of time, money and resources. The fact is that sometimes bad medical outcomes happen, no matter what a doctor does. This is what makes med mal cases as tricky as they are.

“Typically, malpractice is and should be, about deviating from an approved medical standard. Meaning, if a doctor doesn’t live up to the set standards of their specialty and doesn’t have an explanation as to why they did deviate from the accepted norm and something awful happens, they need to face the consequences,” Webb said.

On the other side of the fence, and this is where the great debate gets going, if a doctor does everything right and something bad happens, they feel they deserve to be protected. Life is life and sometimes bad things happen, despite good medical care. Therein lies the dilemma; one that has no right or wrong answer, but does result in troubling lawsuits.

Webb & D’Orazio are Atlanta personal injury lawyers practicing personal injury law, business law, and criminal defense in Atlanta Georgia.

Webb & D’Orazio
2551 Roswell Road
Suite 201
Marietta, GA 30062
Call: (800) 275-9144