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Thread: Opinions regarding law suit/settlement awards

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Opinions regarding law suit/settlement awards

    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/popco...ry?id=17482962

    Take a look at the link above. Evidently the couple that was awarded $20million a few years ago for suffering from 'popcorn lung' are now filing for bankruptcy. Folks go broke every day and it doesn't make the news, but I suspect there's a reason the major news organizations picked up on this story. Some might consider the story a tragedy, while for others it hits a raw nerve.

    How do you feel about 1) the original $20M award, and 2) the recipients going broke a decade later?
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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    1) I don't know enough of the details of the case, or the condition to even make a comment.
    2) Money is like an amplifier. Good people do good thing with money, and stupid people do stupid things with money. Just look at the number of lottery winners that end up broke or dead.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I feel that all disability or healthcare related lawsuits should be capped at your income times years of work left. There should also be a discretionary sum that can be granted on top for "pain and suffering" such as $250k.

    Example: John, 40, makes $30k a year. He is disabled by popcorn lung. If he can prove wrongdoing, he is entitled to 25 years of his employment ($750k) because he is unable to make a living now. He also gets $250k for the pain they caused him over his life.

    Example 2: Jane, 32, makes $50k a year. She has surgery and is disabled from a botched procedure. She is entitled to $1.65 million if it is proven that there was a mistake. She is fine and is living a normal life, she just had to have a second surgery to clean up the mistake. No additional money is granted.

    I think we are an overly litigious society. We need to put caps in place to allow professionals and businesses to have a reasonable expectation that if something does occur, they are not forced into bankruptcy. I think a huge issue with our healthcare system is the threat of lawsuits. Liability is the killer of innovation. If you are scared to try something different, because if it fails you will be sued for all your are worth... it probably won't happen. You want a risky surgery, you take the risk, the doctor performing the surgery shouldn't have to worry about being sued if they make a mistake. That is shared risk.... not one sided.

    No one "deserves" a million dollars for pain and suffering. Unless you are making a million dollars a year, you don't even know what that means. You are entitled to your income times what you couldn't work plus a bit more for the "stress".

    I have seen both sides of litigation. My grandmother had a procedure go wrong and lost the eye sight in her left eye. The doctor was proven to be a fault, and she was granted a sum of money - I don't know how much, but it wasn't a million dollars, or I would hope my Christmas presents would have been nicer....

    I get that you should have the right to try and prove your case... but at the same time we need boundaries and protections for those who are trying to be on the leading edge or saving us from ourselves.
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    It's hard to draw a conclusion about the plaintiffs going declaring bankruptcy a few years after the judgement without knowing how much they actually received after lawyer fees, the portion that went to other plaintiffs in the case, and taxes. From what little information was in the article, it doesn't sound like they were living high on the hog.


    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I feel that all disability or healthcare related lawsuits should be capped at your income times years of work left. There should also be a discretionary sum that can be granted on top for "pain and suffering" such as $250k.

    Example: John, 40, makes $30k a year. He is disabled by popcorn lung. If he can prove wrongdoing, he is entitled to 25 years of his employment ($750k) because he is unable to make a living now. He also gets $250k for the pain they caused him over his life.

    Example 2: Jane, 32, makes $50k a year. She has surgery and is disabled from a botched procedure. She is entitled to $1.65 million if it is proven that there was a mistake. She is fine and is living a normal life, she just had to have a second surgery to clean up the mistake. No additional money is granted.

    I think we are an overly litigious society. We need to put caps in place to allow professionals and businesses to have a reasonable expectation that if something does occur, they are not forced into bankruptcy. I think a huge issue with our healthcare system is the threat of lawsuits. Liability is the killer of innovation. If you are scared to try something different, because if it fails you will be sued for all your are worth... it probably won't happen. You want a risky surgery, you take the risk, the doctor performing the surgery shouldn't have to worry about being sued if they make a mistake. That is shared risk.... not one sided.

    No one "deserves" a million dollars for pain and suffering. Unless you are making a million dollars a year, you don't even know what that means. You are entitled to your income times what you couldn't work plus a bit more for the "stress".

    I have seen both sides of litigation. My grandmother had a procedure go wrong and lost the eye sight in her left eye. The doctor was proven to be a fault, and she was granted a sum of money - I don't know how much, but it wasn't a million dollars, or I would hope my Christmas presents would have been nicer....

    I get that you should have the right to try and prove your case... but at the same time we need boundaries and protections for those who are trying to be on the leading edge or saving us from ourselves.
    How would your scenario work for somebody who is employed and earning $50k a year but is injured and can no longer work and requires more than $50k a year in medical expenses?

    If somebody is 25 years old and earning $30k when they are injured and can no longer work would you really assume that they would earn $30k for the rest of their working lives?

    What about losses in potential interest and dividends, raises and promotions, furthered education, loss of contributions to (and therefore eventual earnings from) social security and retirement accounts? Additional expenses and loss income incurred by family members to care for the injuries?

    Should there be an extra penalty levied against an employer or defendant who knew what they were doing was hazardous - i.e. if the popcorn scent manufacturer knew they could save $XXX,XXX a year and have a larger profit because of it by using an unsafe chemical or procedure should that amount also be factored into the final judgement?

    I am not saying that huge judgements are always justified, just that putting a cap on the judgement based on what an individual is earning at the time of the injury doesn't seem like the right answer to me. I am in the camp that says each case should be looked at individually and the plaintiff(s) should be required to demonstrate how they got to the figure that they are suing for.
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    Should there be an extra penalty levied against an employer or defendant who knew what they were doing was hazardous - i.e. if the popcorn scent manufacturer knew they could save $XXX,XXX a year and have a larger profit because of it by using an unsafe chemical or procedure should that amount also be factored into the final judgement?
    This is one compelling argument for Big Awards in my book. How much incentive is there for a company to alter its actions when damages are measured in the thousands of dollars. A company like Ford or McDonalds is going send those kinda bills to their bean counters and/or laugh them off.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    How would your scenario work for somebody who is employed and earning $50k a year but is injured and can no longer work and requires more than $50k a year in medical expenses?
    You are correct. Medical costs should be factored into the total calculation somehow. If you can show that these medical costs are directly associated with the injury - i.e. medication, etc. then they should be factored in. This is a fine line though, where having too much flexibility will again allow for advantage of the system. No I "need" diabetes medication now because of the accident...

    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    If somebody is 25 years old and earning $30k when they are injured and can no longer work would you really assume that they would earn $30k for the rest of their working lives?
    No I would imagine that they would probably make more. Unfortunately there is no way to know what they would make. They could also make less. My point isn't to try and calculate the inflation rate or the expected income... the point is that it should be a reasonable amount of money where the person on disability is living the same or better then they were before. I am not trying to be cold hearted here... I just think there needs to be some boundaries allow protections for those who can be sued.


    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    What about losses in potential interest and dividends, raises and promotions, furthered education, loss of contributions to (and therefore eventual earnings from) social security and retirement accounts? Additional expenses and loss income incurred by family members to care for the injuries?
    Potential is a huge IF. What if they lost their job tomorrow and never got a job again? They would actually be making more money then they "earned". It is impossible to estimate the future value of someone. I think that medical costs and the cost to care for an individual should be part of the equation. I agree with that point. There should be a standard though. Homecare costs can be averaged over the country and you can have a list of costs per tragic event. It would give a much more reasonable expectation to insurers and families.


    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    Should there be an extra penalty levied against an employer or defendant who knew what they were doing was hazardous - i.e. if the popcorn scent manufacturer knew they could save $XXX,XXX a year and have a larger profit because of it by using an unsafe chemical or procedure should that amount also be factored into the final judgement?
    No. Although I think it is wrong, if you break the law you are only penalized when you are caught. If you caused someone to get popcorn lung, you are responsible for each person who got it. Not those that could have gotten it. We have numerous other laws that can go after the environmental side of breaking the law... the personal lawsuits need to be capped.
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Hmmm...

    Well, my wife was injured in a car accident over a year ago. It was determined to be 100% the other driver's fault - witnessed by an officer who happened to be sitting in the intersection. Her medical bills, with treatment still not finished, are well over $50,000. She also lost a lucrative contract position as she had to take time off for surgery and rehabilitation, which has gone down from three times a week to once a week. She is likely to have permanent limitations, has a very good chance of developing arthritis in her injured leg, and will most likely get to the point where she needs another surgery later in life. Any settlement she gets will first go to pay medical bills and then the attorney will take 30%. Between the other person's insurance (probably $100,000) and our own underinsured motorist insurance (another $100,000) we may get $200,000. A third to the doctors, a third to the attorney, and a third to her to address her lost work, pain and suffering, permanent disability, and probable need for surgery down the road. We do have the option of suing the other driver - assuming there are any assets from which we could collect.

    After this experience I am not so sure I would argue in favor of caps on settlements. It is easy to see a $20 million judgement and think that people walked away rich, but the reality may be something much different. And that is even before considering how it may impact the person whose health has been impacted - or their survivors.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Anyone hear what happened with that Hooters lawsuit where the hostess entered 'chinx' on a Korean customer's order that ended up getting printed on the receipt? I gotta believe the girl lost her job and am guessing there was probably a five figure settlement payoff from corporate as well. Anyway, what are your feelings about awards for lawsuits concerning defamation of character, or discrimination issues? Do you suppose a sizeable settlement and dismissal would have ensued had a hostess entered some other type of insult on a customer's receipt such as 'rednex' or 'fatteez' or 'drunkz'? Do you think a monetary award is appropriate as a remedy for an insult or slur?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Do you think a monetary award is appropriate as a remedy for an insult or slur?
    I would say no if the business remedied the situation. It seems like it's a free speech issue unless this was a reoccurring problem or some permanent damage was done. To me, this particular case seems entirely frivolous.

    What's pathetic is that it's often cheaper to settle out of court than fight a frivolous case in court.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Anyone hear what happened with that Hooters lawsuit where the hostess entered 'chinx' on a Korean customer's order that ended up getting printed on the receipt? I gotta believe the girl lost her job and am guessing there was probably a five figure settlement payoff from corporate as well. Anyway, what are your feelings about awards for lawsuits concerning defamation of character, or discrimination issues? Do you suppose a sizeable settlement and dismissal would have ensued had a hostess entered some other type of insult on a customer's receipt such as 'rednex' or 'fatteez' or 'drunkz'? Do you think a monetary award is appropriate as a remedy for an insult or slur?
    I think there is a clear different between this, where your feelings got hurt, and a physical disability case.

    I think that mental strain and prejudiced should be considered, but these types of awards should certainly be capped. Although it is stupid, racist, derogatory, and the company should be ashamed... it didn't harm this person beyond insult. I think that awards should be able to be granted, mainly because companies should have to know that if they don't self police they will be out X dollars. But that type of award should be clearly capped.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I think there is a clear different between this, where your feelings got hurt, and a physical disability case.

    I think that mental strain and prejudiced should be considered, but these types of awards should certainly be capped. Although it is stupid, racist, derogatory, and the company should be ashamed... it didn't harm this person beyond insult. I think that awards should be able to be granted, mainly because companies should have to know that if they don't self police they will be out X dollars. But that type of award should be clearly capped.
    As a white male, I feel fairly sure that I'm not qualified to answer that such an award "should be clearly capped". In fact, I'm certain I can't say.
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    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    A lot of times where there are caps on disability cases, the costs of taking the case to court adds up to more than the potential payoff.

    Example: I had a botched surgery a few years ago. For my particular case, in my state, the cap was $250k. At the time, I was a grad student pulling in a lucrative $10k/year. My lawyer advised me not to take the case to court because lobbyists have done such an excellent job in our state of making medical malpractice cases impossible to win unless there was a death involved, and he noted it would likely cost double the payoff by the time he was done hiring expert witnesses, etc. He mentioned that had this exact same surgery happened a few miles north, in another state, he would gladly have taken my case and speculated we would have easily proven malpractice and won at least enough to pay for the case to go to court.
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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    A lot of times where there are caps on disability cases, the costs of taking the case to court adds up to more than the potential payoff.

    Example: I had a botched surgery a few years ago. For my particular case, in my state, the cap was $250k. At the time, I was a grad student pulling in a lucrative $10k/year. My lawyer advised me not to take the case to court because lobbyists have done such an excellent job in our state of making medical malpractice cases impossible to win unless there was a death involved, and he noted it would likely cost double the payoff by the time he was done hiring expert witnesses, etc. He mentioned that had this exact same surgery happened a few miles north, in another state, he would gladly have taken my case and speculated we would have easily proven malpractice and won at least enough to pay for the case to go to court.
    I don't want to sound like the cold-hearted guy who doesn't understand or hear these stories. There are many stories like that, which deserve a fair shake. I am not trying to pretend like they don't exist or that they don't deserve a full payoff. I really do get that.

    My issue is that there is a second group of people that make these cases, one that isn't quite as reasonable. One that allows people who are not injured, hurt, or distressed, to make a reasonable persons job impossible. One that allows a person to sue someone for a minor mistake, an accidental mistake, or an attempt to do something to save a life that doesn't work out. In my job I am protected by our State law - if someone thinks I made a mistake, I am not able to be sued directly. You sue the community. Doctors do not have any such protection. People can sue the hospital, the doctor, the nurse, the maker of the equipment, etc.

    If you get elective surgery you normally sign this right away. You are accepting that there is inherent risk. If you go into an ER though, you have every right to expect that you will be saved, with the same right to sue the person who is trying to do it if they don't succeed, make a mistake, or don't full succeed. This is where I have problems.

    We have gotten to the point where we believe that doctors should be miracle workers. They must stand up to a test that is almost impossible. They must always be right, never make a mistake, and accept that even when they do everything right people will still hate them. My difficulty with law suits and judgments against doctors is that we have a system that allows us to request everything from hospitals and their employees, and expect nothing back.

    I think that I fall back on that side of things will all types of settlement awards. Depending on the situation, I think there are some cases that warrant the ability to get damages, and some that aren't. If this was more clearly defined, and we either raised requirement for medical law suits or created protections for people who work in hospitals to allow group protection or one settlement for all we would see a better system.

    I am rambling, but it comes down to this - some people abuse the system to such extents that it allows for the entire system to skew towards them. This hurts the very real cases, and hurts the very real people that didn't do anything wrong except for go into the hospital.
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  14. #14
    I know this is virtually impossible to prove, but I'll give it a shot. If the company/indivdual/corporation knew what they were doing was going to or could cause harm, they they should have their a$$es handed to them. They took a calculated risk with people's lives. This is wrong and the people who did this should be made to understand this.

    Further, if a dcotor, lawyer, or other professional did their jobs impaired, i.ie., drunk, stoned, etc, they should have their a$$es handed to them. However, if it is an innocent mistake, with out intent, then that should be taken into consdieration. Just because someone screwed up, doesn't mean it's pay day. Further, if someone knowingly engaged in risky behavior and get harmed, then it's on them.

    To echo mskiis-and we actually agree on something, wow, What people do with the money from the reward reveals what type of person they are. Same with pro athletes who go broke after making mega bucks for several season. It's a test of character in my book.
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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    No. Although I think it is wrong, if you break the law you are only penalized when you are caught. If you caused someone to get popcorn lung, you are responsible for each person who got it. Not those that could have gotten it. We have numerous other laws that can go after the environmental side of breaking the law... the personal lawsuits need to be capped.
    Not really. Companies break the law all the time and don't get penalized. Or when they do its usually far below the profit they made from breaking the law. Punitive damages are just that- intended to be punitive. But they don't usually change the behavior. Look at this story

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/ar...ad-guilty.aspx

    3 billion in fines, but still less than the company made profitting while knowingly killing people. Companies do this shit all the time.


    I'll echo the comments from others that the article doesn't tell us why they had to file for bankruptcy. Maybe they made some investments that didn't turn out so well - does that make them bad people? It's also possible that they had medical issues that forced them into bankruptcy even with the 20 mil (prob closer to 10 mil after taxes).
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    We have gotten to the point where we believe that doctors should be miracle workers. They must stand up to a test that is almost impossible. They must always be right, never make a mistake, and accept that even when they do everything right people will still hate them. My difficulty with law suits and judgments against doctors is that we have a system that allows us to request everything from hospitals and their employees, and expect nothing back.
    That's what malpractice insurance is for though. The implications of a botched medical procedure are for too great for there not to be some sort of insurance in place for the patient. Of course I don't think doctors should sued if the desired outcome does not occur and they did everything they should have realistically done. At the same time though, doctors are paid the big bucks not to make mistakes.

    Damage caps are something I have a big issue with since there's no discretion in how they're handled. They're obviously in place to limit abuses which I won't argue do happen. The problem is that they screw over people with legitimate cases. There's a case going on around here where there were a tremendous number of injuries caused by the negligence of a single government worker. That particular jurisdiction, by law, only has to pay $6,000 to each of the people involved in the accident. This includes the family that lost their son or another family that has 2 kids with medical bills in excess of 7-figures. To me situations like this are completely unacceptable. I don't think the jurisdiction should get nailed with punitive damages but I at least think they need to cover medical expenses.

  17. #17
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    That's what malpractice insurance is for though. The implications of a botched medical procedure are for too great for there not to be some sort of insurance in place for the patient. Of course I don't think doctors should sued if the desired outcome does not occur and they did everything they should have realistically done. At the same time though, doctors are paid the big bucks not to make mistakes.

    Damage caps are something I have a big issue with since there's no discretion in how they're handled. They're obviously in place to limit abuses which I won't argue do happen. The problem is that they screw over people with legitimate cases. There's a case going on around here where there were a tremendous number of injuries caused by the negligence of a single government worker. That particular jurisdiction, by law, only has to pay $6,000 to each of the people involved in the accident. This includes the family that lost their son or another family that has 2 kids with medical bills in excess of 7-figures. To me situations like this are completely unacceptable. I don't think the jurisdiction should get nailed with punitive damages but I at least think they need to cover medical expenses.
    The emphasis is mine both above and below...

    I will admit, this is really close to home for me, but still. My frustration lives in understanding the other side...

    I will quote from my wife who has posted on this topic before in another part of the cyber web...

    The problem is that the system is so far beyond punishing those who commit true negligence, and instead simply punishes bad outcomes, that it is profoundly unjust, and causes dangerous adaptations in practice that cause harm to patients (unnecessary tests and treatments). No one that I've heard wants "a blank check to commit negligence". I think we would all settle for a system that punishes true negligence. However, we don't accept a system that uses the prop of "negligence" as an excuse to extort money out of any and every physician, even the best amongst us, practically at random, simply because a patient has a bad outcome and a jury can be confused by sham "experts" whose testimony is bought and paid for.

    Even if as a physician you are never sued (unlikely), over your career hundreds of thousands (or more) dollars that would have been available to pay you, will go towards malpractice insurance. That's money either indirectly, or directly taken out of your paycheck.

    Just today, I was talking to a family physician (a very "low risk" specialty) in his 50's. He said he'd been sued four times in his career already and won each case, but not before being accused of negligence, having to miss work for depositions, having to be cross-examined in a court room multiple times and put on trial. This is in a "tort reform" state, and he's a super nice guy that does not p--s off patients. Is he supposed to just shrug this off and practice the same as before he was sued 4 times for negligence he never committed? He'd be a fool.

    Is it justice to be falsely accused of negligence routinely, and have to be put on trial over and over again, to proves one's innocence?
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  18. #18
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I don't want to sound like the cold-hearted guy who doesn't understand or hear these stories.
    I am rambling, but it comes down to this - some people abuse the system to such extents that it allows for the entire system to skew towards them. This hurts the very real cases, and hurts the very real people that didn't do anything wrong except for go into the hospital.
    You don't sound cold-hearted to me. I completely agree with you. The masses of folks who sue simply because things aren't flawless have really screwed the system up for the people who experience an injustice in the way the medical system works. It is nearly impossible, unfortunately, to safeguard the judicial process exclusively for victims of malpractice rather than just for the disgruntled people of the world.

    It is like everything else these days. Customer service is total crap now on a large scale, IMO because people have become accustomed to acting like toddlers having temper tantrums every time they are even slightly inconvenienced.
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    I think the whole situation is a catch-22. On one hand, patients definitely abuse the system and sue for things they should not. On the other hand, patients also have the most to lose as a result of a truly botched medical procedure. Personally I side more with the patients just because I think the bigger injustice would be for one them truly in need to slip through the cracks. Doctors have malpractice insurance but there's nothing comparable for a patient if they receive a botched procedure that leaves them permanently disabled.

    Now I've known some people who've made some iffy malpractice claims that I'm honestly mixed about the outcome. I knew one woman who sued her doctor for repeatedly failing to detect that she had ovarian cancer. She had been complaining about the symptoms of it for a year or two but by the time the doctor finally detected it, it was already terminal. Had she gotten a second opinion, the outcome could have been different. She was just a single mother who wanted to leave something for her son. She sued, though eventually lost essentially because the doctor didn't cause any harm and didn't act in a negligent manner.

    In this case, I do legitimately think the doctor screwed up. However this lady had the option of getting another opinion but she failed to do so. The doctor's opinion in this case was clearly wrong but I don't necessarily think he should be penalized for that. Either way though, I think a lawsuit in this situation was justified even if the doctor ultimately prevailed. I suspect a number of cases that doctors claim are frivolous or unnecessary are probably not all that dissimilar to the one I mentioned.

  20. #20
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    Now I've known some people who've made some iffy malpractice claims that I'm honestly mixed about the outcome. I knew one woman who sued her doctor for repeatedly failing to detect that she had ovarian cancer. She had been complaining about the symptoms of it for a year or two but by the time the doctor finally detected it, it was already terminal. Had she gotten a second opinion, the outcome could have been different. She was just a single mother who wanted to leave something for her son. She sued, though eventually lost essentially because the doctor didn't cause any harm and didn't act in a negligent manner.

    In this case, I do legitimately think the doctor screwed up. However this lady had the option of getting another opinion but she failed to do so. The doctor's opinion in this case was clearly wrong but I don't necessarily think he should be penalized for that. Either way though, I think a lawsuit in this situation was justified even if the doctor ultimately prevailed. I suspect a number of cases that doctors claim are frivolous or unnecessary are probably not all that dissimilar to the one I mentioned.
    This is what causes additional procedures though. You can sue just because you (a non-physician, non-expert) thought that you had symptoms. Turns out something bad happened to you, but if it never presented itself in a manner than can be traced, then it wasn't something that could be "fixed".

    For every story of where something happened and the patient lost out, I can double the stories where a doctor was falsely sued. My family doc growing up was recently sued because of a birth defect that wasn't detected....12 years ago. Yep he was part of the lawsuit because he saw the kid as a 4 year old and didn't see the disease coming....

    He didn't lose money, but he had to go to court, his name had to be dragged through the mud, and he had to deal with the fact that he MIGHT lose for something he could have never stopped. That isn't fair to him. What that forces him to do is test the living hell out of everyone, so when the day comes that some kid gets some random disease, he can say, "well when I saw her I ran this test and she was clean...".

    If you choose to go to a doctor (elective surgery, outpatient care, etc.) you get to choose who you are going to, and if you want the procedure. In that case, I think you should rarely be able to sue. That is a decision, a risk you take. You want to go bungy jumping... there is an expectation of safety... but in the end, if you die, you made that choice.

    I feel differently about the ER. You don't get to pick your doctor. You are high risk already (although this isn't exactly true as a large portion of the ER population shouldn't be there) and are either on deaths bed or close to it. In this situation it is the doctor who is trying to better your situation on little information and time, or they are trying to save your life. In this case, I think that you should have different rights as a patient, but that the doctor should still be protected, as they are being asked to take risks to save lives.

    To me the problem is that it isn't just about malpractice insurance (it runs about $20k a year for an ER doctor), it is about the system that allows for good doctors to be sued, their names to be tarnished, and a court of non-medical people to determine a judgement. I have no doubt that bad doctors exist. I have no doubt that doctors screw up or have gregarious lacks of judgement like drinking and working... but that is the minority. Most doctors have spent 7-11 years after getting a bachelor's degree practicing before they even start work. They work hard to produce results like no other profession, with almost no protections and very little thanks.

    To me the problem is about the system, not the people.
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    To me the problem is about the system, not the people.
    I would agree completely with this. Not to derail but I think the root problem is how inefficient our healthcare system is. If everyone knew they'd be taken care of, I don't think people would be as inclined to sue. As it is now, many people sue solely for the purpose of ensuring they'll be able to afford the care they need.

  22. #22
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    I would agree completely with this. Not to derail but I think the root problem is how inefficient our healthcare system is. If everyone knew they'd be taken care of, I don't think people would be as inclined to sue. As it is now, many people sue solely for the purpose of ensuring they'll be able to afford the care they need.
    We have come to a nexus....
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  23. #23
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I think it is important to remember how illiterate the general public is about their own healthcare when we are having these discussions. Most people are not in a position to know whether or not their doctor is following best practices, so it is very difficult for a patient to know whether or not they have been the victim of malpractice, the victim of circumstance, or their own worst enemy.

    As healthcare experts, we generally treat doctors as omniscient beings who know the human body inside and out, and offer them omnipotent executive power over our treatment in many instances. Though history should remind us otherwise, we treat modern medicine as the answer (rightfully so in many circumstances since the alternative is often full of folk tale remedies).

    Combine the nearly demigod status we assign to doctors with the healthcare ignorance of our average selves and we are setting society up for an endless loop of malpractice suits.
    Occupy Your Brain!

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