A culture of silence that protects colleagues hampers the collection of evidence in medical malpractice cases. Health care workers in Connecticut might recognize the reasons that led a retired surgeon to publicly admit his lie during a court case earlier in his career.
At the age of 77, the surgeon chose to write a column for his local newspaper and confess about the lie he told under oath two decades earlier. He had been called as a witness in a malpractice case against a colleague to attest to the other surgeon’s skill. He closed ranks to protect the colleague and said that he had not ever known the other surgeon to perform substandard work. In his column years later, he said this was an outright lie.
Investigations into medical errors by ProPublica confirm that health care workers experience widespread pressure to hide problems. Studies indicate that physicians often do not want to tell patients about mistakes, and other medical staff members fear retaliation if they express concerns about patient safety.
As the confession of the retired surgeon shows, a person might experience difficulty obtaining answers after a surgical error, misdiagnosis or group home injury. Someone who suspects that substandard care led to a worsened condition could seek out an attorney who represents medical cases. The attorney could be familiar with the standards that need to be met to prove medical negligence. Outside experts might be brought in by an attorney to provide testimony. After filing a lawsuit, an attorney could negotiate with the health care provider or insurance company and request compensation. If necessary, an attorney could advance the case to a trial and present evidence to a jury. The efforts of a legal professional could enable an injured person to fulfill the steps necessary to make a claim for damages.