While such an idea once sounded like pure science fiction, it would present enormous opportunities in business, leisure, and medicine. Imagine, someone with a rare disease or medical condition could quickly travel anywhere in the world to obtain the best treatment option. In fact, this is already occurring, as people travel to numerous places for both medical and dental treatment. But, as we all know, sometimes medical treatment goes wrong, and this raises an interesting question. Can you sue doctors in other countries for medical malpractice?
In most cases where the other party was clearly at fault, the injured party will receive at least some compensation for their pain and suffering. Most insurance companies recognize that people who are injured in a car accident deserve something for their pain and inconvenience. Often, the amount insurance carriers try to get away with, at first, is very low. But with proper attorney representation, this number can be increased to reach an acceptable sum.
In Florida, when someone is injured as a result of someone else’s negligence the Florida law provides that the injured party can ask a jury to compensate them for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those damages that are readily calculable—medical bills, lost wages, or anything with a set dollar amount. Economic damages are typically easily presentable to a jury. Jurors understand hard and fast numbers, like medical bills and lost wages, and are oftentimes readily willing to compensate an injury victim for these types of losses.
I have a hard time reconciling this particular doctor’s ‘niceness’ with his clinical practice/beliefs. For example, when I objected to his opinion that the best standard of care for my daughter was electroconvulsive therapy, (at the height of her intellectual development) even though she was in a extreme state and unable to sign a consent form and make a fully informed medical decision, he strongly hinted as a part of his argument, that the anti-psychotic drugs that she had been given were ‘toxic.’ (Doctors are increasingly aware of the limitations and adverse properties treatment built around drug maintenance, especially neuroleptics but it is rare for doctors to share even a hint of doubt about medications) I could tell he was becoming uncomfortable with my objections, and my emotions around ECT. I hinted that I was willing to obtain an emergency injunction against ECT if necessary. Fortunately, this was not needed, as the hospital had a Director of Medical Ethics who was able to conduct a private interview with my daughter and my request, and as a result, confirm that my daughter did not want to be shocked. Dr. Sampley did not pursue ECT. Thankfully, he did not pursue it and I cite the excellent relationships and education/outreach that David Oaks established in our locality because, by happy coincidence, MindFreedom is headquartered here.
In most cases, only the primary physician (your doctor) can be sued for misdiagnosis. In rare cases, other health care professionals may also be liable if their negligence caused or contributed to the patient’s harm -- including nurses, lab techs, and any specialists who may have seen the patient. The hospital or health care facility where the doctor practices usually cannot be sued for harm caused by misdiagnosis. That’s because most doctors are independent contractors, not employees of the hospital, so the facility can’t be held legally responsible for the doctor’s negligence.
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.
Unfortunately, patients can die as a result of these “adverse events.” If your loved one is one of the 98,000 patients who die annually as a result of medical malpractice, then you still have to take steps. First, you should contact the local medical examiner to set up a forensic autopsy. Sometimes, they will do this on their own as there are specific local laws that may require such an autopsy. If they do not, however, you may have to pay for the autopsy yourself with an independent pathologist. Regardless, it is a good idea to have such a procedure performed along with accompanying toxicology tests to determine the cause of death and uncover any evidence of possible wrongdoing or malpractice.
A case can be opened only if the alleged malpractice happened less than three years previously. There are a few exceptions to this general rule. If the injured party was under 18 at the time of the incident and his or her parents failed to seek compensation on behalf of the child, on turning 18, the child has one year to seek compensation on his or her own account. An injured party suffering from a mental illness has three years to make a claim on recovery from this illness. Exceptions might also be made if the injured party was compelled to be outside South Africa during the three-year intervening period.
Proving emotional distress can be difficult but plaintiffs will generally be able to seek damages if they can prove that there was a harm that could be objectively discerned. This harm could include psychoses, depression, neuroses, phobia, etc. Medical reports and personal testimony that outline the physical symptoms that resulted from the emotional distress are very important in proving this distress and will likely be necessary when seeking damages. Your Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys can guide you on what you need to do in order to prove objective harm.