The study recommended reforming the system by increasing funding for legal services, so attorneys could be compensated for their time; making defendants who lose a case pay the plaintiff's attorney fees; or sending malpractice complaints to an administrative system with neutral adjudicators and medical experts so patients wouldn't need an attorney.
Most people are able to get to at least second base with a failure to warn claim. Fewer are able to prove that the doctor simply did not talk to them about that particular risk, although there are cases where a patient’s word has been accepted over a doctor’s insistence that a warning was given. Getting copies of the doctor’s medical notes can help with this element.
Expert testimony is required. Expert opinions are often a crucial feature of the patient's case. A qualified expert is usually required at trial. (And often, expert testimony or an expert affidavit is required at the malpractice review panel proceedings prior to commencing trial.) State rules vary as to what makes somebody qualified to provide expert medical testimony, but generally it is someone with experience in the particular field at issue. In a very limited number of circumstances, expert testimony is not required, such as when a surgical towel is left inside the patient after a surgery.
It is very common for an injured person to consult a lawyer saying ‘if Dr Smith had told me I would end up like this I would never have agreed to the procedure’. While the saying ‘hindsight is always 20/20’ is often appropriate, there are situations where an injured person could and should sue their doctor or other professional for failing to warn them of significant risks of a procedure.
A good case in point is that of a Missouri teenager who went to the emergency room after a car accident. An infection was not diagnosed in time and led to permanent brain injury. The jury awarded the plaintiff close to 5 million dollars in damages. The young man now has permanent loss of motor skills and cognitive skills. The cost of his future medical expenses was a factor for the jury when deciding the award amount.