Remember yesterday’s post about new insurance companies coming to Illinois?
Now there’s this article saying that doctors are leaving Southern Illinois because of the changes to the wrongful death act (which allow the jury to consider emotional distress).
Now let’s look at this, shall we? Here are some quotes from the article:
“We had reform to try to calm down the frivolous (medical malpractice) lawsuits that were occurring. What this does is reopen the floodgates,”
This, of course, assumes that frivolous lawsuits get to juries, and that juries award money for them. Both of these assumptions are wrong.
Dr. Dale W. Kesl, Herrin Hospital emergency department director, said he plans to leave the area because he feels the legislation is putting his career in jeopardy.“In these new cases (with the amended legislation) they can get everything you have,” he said.
No, that’s why you have insurance. If your insurance company has the chance to settle within the policy limits when it should, and chooses not to, and then the plaintiff gets a judgment above the policy limits, you have a claim for bad faith. Most of the time, you can trade your bad faith claim to the plaintiff in exchange for his agreement not to come after your personal assets.
Kesl said being a doctor isn’t about the money, it’s about saving lives. He said some conditions are impossible to diagnose until it’s too late.
Now let’s be honest here. Sure, some conditions are impossible to diagnose until after the fact. However, the test for malpractice isn’t perfection, it’s only acting within the standard of care – doing what a reasonably competent doctor would do under the circumstances. If it’s impossible, boom – plaintiff loses. And let’s not forget that for every malpractice lawsuit in Illinois, before a plaintiff can even file the case, he has to have a certification from a licensed physician that acknowledges that there IS a case.
Oh, and it’s not about the money. Sure. Why are doctors thinking about leaving when their malpractice premiums rise, so they can go to another state with cheaper premiums? So they can make more money! It’s not like they are worried about putting food on the table… they want more money! So be honest… just say that.
Of course you want to help people. We do too. If helping people is so important, why would you want to limit the amount of money that a jury can award to someone’s loved ones after your patient dies because of your mistake?
Bottom line… this is the Wrongful Death Act. The only way it matters to physicians is if the physician is negligent, and KILLS SOMEONE in the process. Do you want a doctor who wants to run away because he is afraid he’s going to kill so many people that he will no longer make as much money as he wants?
(Michael J. Warner and Associates is a law firm handling medical malpractice cases in Rock Island, Illinois)