Medical Malpractice Realities

Medical malpractice lawsuits in Georgia have long been the target of doctors’ groups and big insurance companies. Using advertising, political contributions, and misinformation, they have been successful in fostering the notion that these lawsuits are frivolous. Many people have bought into this misconception, that is, until it happens to them or a loved one.
A recent story in the Miami newspaper illustrates this well. A Belle Glade, Florida judge plans to sue two radiologists and a surgeon after a foot long by foot wide sponge was left in him after surgery and went undiagnosed for five months, even as he developed serious health issues from it.
Late last year 67-year old Nelson Bailey checked into Good Samaritan Medical Center for surgery to treat his diverticulitis which was causing him abdominal pain. After the surgery the pain not only continued, but got worse.
When the judge complained to his doctor, he was sent for a CT scan but the metal marker on the sponge was reportedly misidentified in the test results. The judge was subjected to even more CT scans, and again the marker was misidentified.
Finally doctors identified the sponge and in March he underwent another surgery during which doctors removed the foot long by foot wide sponge which had begun to fester and was full of pus. Doctors also had to remove a part of Bailey’s intestine which had been severely damaged by the sponge.
As part of the settlement he reached with hospital and its owner, Tenet Healthcare System, the judge is allowed to talk publicly about his experience in hopes that hospitals will make changes so something like this never happens again.
Now the judge would also like damage award caps placed on medical malpractice lawsuits brought in Florida repealed. Recently, the Georgia Supreme Court declared similar caps enacted by the legislature in Georgia unconstitutional.
The judge was quoted as saying , “But what I would like to see is when you have malpractice per se, something this egregious, the damages should be between the parties, a judge and jury without the state legislature dictating limits.”

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