Common Misconceptions About Medical Malpractice Cases in Connecticut

Interviewer: What kind of misconceptions do you see that people have about medical malpractice when they first come to you?

Charles Price: They sometimes think that just because something has gone wrong or that there’s been some sort of complication, that the doctor must have done something wrong. That’s a very common misconception. People don’t really remember that when they sign, for example, a consent form for a procedure or course of treatment, they are very often unknowingly consenting a wide number of risks and they are basically signing on to say, “I know that this all might happen to me. I might suffer a nerve injury. I might suffer an infection. I might die from anesthesia.”

People don’t realize that usually they’ve signed a consent form which basically almost absolves the doctor for anything that can happen. We have to fight through that and show that even though it might be a complication or a risk, it really isn’t something that should generally happen if the doctor or the healthcare provider does their job properly. That’s one misconception: just because something bad happened, that the doctor must be at fault.

Another common misconception is people don’t understand that in order to have a case against the healthcare provider, you must have an expert witness willing to testify in court that the doctor did something wrong. Your claim can never even get into court unless you actually have an expert witness who is prepared to testify that there was a negligent treatment and that negligent treatment caused injury. People sometimes think it’s just like an automobile accident and it’s really not.

Another last misconception is that they somehow think that these cases are easy to settle. Once you file suit, the doctor starts throwing money at you, and the doctor’s insurance company just starts showing an interest in settling. There are all sorts of reasons why that’s not the case, including the fact that doctors, if they settle, get reported to what is called the National Practitioner Data Bank, which is a nationwide computer system that tracks all the cases against doctors, what has happened with those cases, and whether the doctor settled those cases. That’s a real disincentive for doctors to settle because they end up going on this data bank. That’s another common misconception: these cases are easy.

By Jack O’Donnell

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