Just because your doctor or any other medical professional made a mistake about your care, it does not amount to medical malpractice. As a plaintiff (the person who brings the claim) you need to establish a few things before you can even file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you are unsure whether or not you have grounds to make a claim, consider this:
So, the lawyer sues the doctor. The doctor being sued has malpractice insurance (most states won’t allow you to practice without it). So the insurance company pays for a lawyer to defend the doctor, as well as an expert witness to evaluate the case and attest that there was no malpractice. Notice that the patient’s lawyer still hasn’t spent any money. The doctor’s insurance company has spent a lot of money on expert witnesses and lawyers.
In fact, filing a civil suit against your doctor does not even guarantee that he will be investigated. In order for your doctor to be investigated, a complaint would have to be filed against him with the New York State Department of Health. The Office of Professional Medical Conduct (“OPMC”) is responsible for investigating complaints about physicians, physician’s assistants, and specialist assistants. An investigation may lead to a formal hearing before a committee of the Board for Professional Medical Conduct.
For example, a man goes to the hospital for a routine hernia repair but still has pain and a burning sensation at the the incision site, long after it has healed. He’s unable to eat and suffers from severe abdominal pain, but no amount of medicine or antibiotics helps. A year later, the man is in such pain that he goes to the emergency room, he tells the emergency room doctor about the pain, the futility of the antibiotics, and how this all occurred shortly after his hernia surgery. The doctor orders an x-ray which shows that a piece of surgical gauze was left in the man’s abdomen from his hernia surgery. When it was removed, it was black with mold, which is why the antibiotics didn’t work.
In the United States, there are many jurisdictional issues that could bar bringing a claim in an American court. Litigants would have to establish that the doctor had sufficient contacts with the United States for it to exert jurisdiction over him or her. Even if the court does find that it can take jurisdiction over the case, it has to determine which nation and state’s laws would apply.
Suing the Government under the FTCA is different than suing a private company or individual. There are a number of hoops that you have to jump through before you can even file the lawsuit. There are also certain limitations in lawsuits against the Government that you don’t have in lawsuits against private parties. While you are entitled to a trial under the FTCA, it is a “bench trial,” meaning the judge renders the decision and not a jury. Fortunately for the victims in the above-referenced malpractice case, the judge recognized the serious and permanent nature of the child’s injuries and the extraordinary expenses that would be required to provide for the child’s future medical and life care needs.
In many cases, an illness or injury becomes more difficult to treat as time passes. It is usually vital that a doctor diagnose an illness or injury in a reasonable amount of time, so that appropriate treatment can be administered. For example, a common case relates to cancer. If cancer is detected in its early stages, a patient has a much greater chance of recovery, than if it is ignored and allowed to spread. Cancer can be detected in its early stages if the doctor has a chance to examine the patient during a routine check-up. If the doctor fails to properly diagnose the symptoms of cancer, then the patient could be sent home, and the cancer could spread. However, each case is unique, and whether or not this could be considered medical negligence, depends on the specific circumstances of the case.
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor (or other medical professional) who fails to competently perform his or her medical duties. The rules about medical malpractice -- from when you must bring your lawsuit to whether you must notify the doctor ahead of time -- vary from state to state. But there are some general principals and broad categories of rules that apply to most medical malpractice cases. Here's an overview of the law and some of these special rules.
Medical malpractice cases almost always require medical experts to testify about the proper standard of care that should have been provided under the circumstances. These are often physicians who practice within the same type of medicine that the physician defendant practices in. These individuals are usually tasked with the responsibility of explaining that the defendant deviated from the standard of care and that this deviation resulted in the patient suffering the harm alleged in the complaint.
Of course, these questions get even more murky when talking about the legal system of a foreign country. Some nations may not recognize rights to sue by foreigners. Others may bog down in administrative red tape far thicker than anything found in an American court. Some estimate cases for malpractice brought in foreign nations could take 20 years or more to resolve. Worse yet, some nations may try to transfer jurisdiction back to the United States and the US may refuse to accept it, creating a legal back and forth leaving the parties in limbo.
we have understood the Eleventh Amendment to stand not so much for what it says, but for the presupposition of our constitutional structure which it confirms: that the States entered the federal system with their sovereignty intact; that the judicial authority in Article III is limited by this sovereignty, and that a State will therefore not be subject to suit in federal court unless it has consented to suit, either expressly or in the "plan of the convention." States may consent to suit, and therefore waive their Eleventh Amendment immunity by removing a case from state court to federal court. See Lapides v. Board of Regents of University System of Georgia.
Most states have modified the locality rule to include both an evaluation of the customary practices of local physicians and an examination of national medical standards. Physicians are called to testify as expert witnesses by both sides in medical malpractice trials because the jury is not familiar with the intricacies of medicine. Standards established by medical specialty organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are often used by these expert witnesses to address the alleged negligent actions of a physician who practices in that specialty. Nonconformance to these standards is evidence of negligence, whereas conformance supports a finding of due care.
Medical malpractice claims don't only cover errors in diagnosis and treatment. Once you've established a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor owes you a duty of care and treatment with the degree of skill, care, and diligence as possessed by, or expected of, a reasonably competent physician under the same or similar circumstances. Part of that duty of care is to be forthcoming with your diagnosis, treatment options and prognosis, as reasonably competent physicians would not lie to their patients.