The Problem With Doctors Complaining About Medical Malpractice Law

law books medical malpractice.jpgToday I was reading a great blog post over at Much of it had me nodding in agreement with the physician-blogger who wrote it.
The blog post’s title was “Lawsuits Are More Of An Emotional Issue Than A Financial Issue” and the author made many sound points. As the author pointed out, it makes little sense to cap damages on doctors as part of an effort to lower medical malpractice insurance premiums when Medicare and Medicaid already price the cost of malpractice insurance into what they reimburse a doctor in a given state. Tort reform therefore constitutes a windfall for most doctors.
But then the blog post began to lose me. The author posed a hypothetical wherein an otherwise healthy thirty-six year old woman goes to the doctor’s office complaining of chest pains that have lasted two days. The doctor does not run every expensive diagnostic test in the book but concludes that the patient’s chest pains are unrelated to a blockage and is subsequently sued for malpractice when the patient is discharged and dies of a heart attack.
The hypothetical reminded me of one of the main problems with doctor-led discussion of medical malpractice law: they don’t understand medical malpractice law anymore than I do the ins-and-outs of their subspecialty.
In order to prove medical malpractice, a patient has to prove a whole heckuva lot more than, “There was some expensive test that could’ve been run that would’ve prevented my injury.”
The plaintiff has to show that the standard of care in the medical profession would have dictated that the doctor run the tests. In effect, the doctor is judged by what the average doctor would do, rather than by some superhuman standard.
There’s a world of difference between the two.
If more doctors understood the standard that applies to medical malpractice, there would probably be a lot fewer cries for tort reform.

This blog in maintained by the Boston medical malpractice lawyers at The Law Office of Alan H. Crede, P.C.