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JAMA: Better Communication Needed Following a Medical Malpractice Injury

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Improved hospital communication with patients is crucial following medical malpractice, or mistakes during treatment, to aid in their endurance and resolution of the issue, according to new findings.

The medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine published a report last month by Australian researchers indicating the patients generally have positive experiences following a medical injury, but there was much room for improvement. Often doctors and staff display a lack of empathy in regards to the issue and fail to communicate the path of resolution of the underlying cause to prevent reoccurrence with future patients.

Researchers conducted interviews with 40 patients, family members, and staff members who had been involved with the medical errors. The interviews took place at three U.S. hospitals, which operate communication and resolution programs (CRPs), between January 6, 2016 and June 30, 2016.

To be eligible for the research interviews, patients were required to have received a CRP, speak English, and were no longer able to file a malpractice claim because of receiving prior compensation or expiration of the statute of limitations.

Of the 30 patients and family members interviewed, 27 had received compensation for their injuries attributed to error. The CRP experience was positive overall for 18 of the 30 patients and family members. The interviewees emphatically expressed a need to be heard and expected the attending physician to listen without interruption. Thirty-five of the 40 participants believed that including the plaintiff's attorney in the conference would be helpful.

Of the 30 patients and their families, 16 regarded their compensation as adequate but 17 asserted that their offer lacked proactivity. Twenty-four of 30 reported receiving no information about safety improvement efforts despite their strong desire for information in that regard.

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The True Value of a Medical Malpractice Case

If you or a family member is injured due to the error of a medical professional you are entitled to file a suit against the doctor or medical facility to seek compensation. The State of California has a law known as the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) that places a cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. What exactly are non-economic damages? They are awarded to a plaintiff to compensate for physical or emotional impact such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, or the psychological effects of disfigurement, as some examples. Things that cannot have an actual monetary value placed on them are defined as non-economic. It is important to know that there is no cap in California on economic damages such as loss of income or the ability to earn a living as well as medical and rehabilitation costs, past and future. These economic losses are often under compensated in medical malpractice cases.

As an example we will say you are a highly skilled technologist who depends on your steady hands to perform your job. You enter the hospital for a routine surgery such as an appendectomy. You receive too much anesthesia and you suffer permanent neurological damage affecting your motor control. You still have use of your hands but they shake uncontrollably. You cannot return to your high paying job. You need to be retrained and rehabilitated. You are offered $300,000 to settle your case. Sound fair?

If you are thirty years old and expect to work for thirty more years, with inflation, your lower paying job will cost you more like $3 million over you lifetime - possibly more. Add to that amount, the astronomical pile of medical bills that are not covered by your insurance as well as costly rehabilitation.

Retain a Qualified Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you, or someone you care about, are injured due to a medical error, it is imperative that you seek the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice attorney to represent you. There are many law firms who will attempt to settle your case as quickly as possible. These "settlement mills" do not have your best interest in mind. Many of their lawyers have never set foot in a courtroom. You need a law firm with a proven record of consistently winning the maximum amount of compensation possible.

If you or a loved one was injured due to medical malpractice, or if you suspect medical malpractice, reach out to Vititoe Law Group today for a free evaluation of your case by a qualified medical malpractice lawyer. No award - no fee.

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