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Justice for medical negligence is a long road in North Carolina

Failing to diagnose a patient's serious or life-threatening health condition because a doctor did not take into account all of the patient's symptoms, or failing to ensure that hospital workers understand their roles and responsibilities when taking care of patients are examples of medical malpractice that occur every year in the U.S.

This poor care and negligence leads to thousands of mistakes that end up causing patients in North Carolina and throughout the entire U.S. to suffer further health complications, or even fatal injuries. A patient's life might never be the same after becoming a victim of medical negligence. However, patients in North Carolina may at the very least file a malpractice claim against a doctor or other medical professional in order to hold the party or parties accountable for their harmful and damaging actions.

But according to a new study, recovering damages for one's pain, suffering, medical expenses and lost wages could take years.

For the study, hospital and medical school researchers tracked over 10,000 U.S. malpractice claims between 2002 and 2005. Just over half of the claims, or 55 percent, were litigated.

The time between the initiation of medical malpractice suits and case resolutions was considerable. About half of the litigated claims in the study were eventually thrown out, but it took courts over 20 months on average to make that decision. When medical malpractice cases were settled before trial, the average waiting period for resolution was nearly 30 months. Researchers found that verdicts for lawsuits that went to trial could take between three and four years to occur.

The study noted which doctors were least and most likely to be found liable for medical mistakes or incompetency. Internists' cases were thrown out most often by courts, while lawsuits against pediatricians and pathologists were dismissed only 36 to 40 percent of the time.

This study may be discouraging, but it should not cause victims of medical negligence to give up hope in seeking justice for their injuries. Victims should at the very least be compensated for their injuries, and medical professionals should be held accountable for causing undue harm. An experienced attorney may be able to help patients and their families achieve this form of justice.

Source: Reuters, "Docs win most malpractice suits, but road is long," Amy Norton, May 23, 2012

1 Comment

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