Several studies have shown that more than 50 percent of doctors will fail to disclose or lie about medical errors that they or their colleagues have made. In order to uncover evidence of medical negligence, malpractice lawyers often retain medical experts who can review the medical records and notes in order to uncover errors even when the medical staff is attempting to hide them.
Failing to Disclose Medical Errors
A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients unanimously wanted to know when harmful errors had been made. The patients all expressed that they understood that mistakes are sometimes made, but they would want to know if the error resulted in further injuries that they are suffering. More than half of the doctors in the study reported that they would not disclose certain medical errors to their patients if they believed that the patients would not realize they were harmed by the doctors’ mistakes. The doctors said that they tend to put a positive spin on errors when they do disclose them, and the reason that they might not disclose mistakes is because of fear of litigation.
Lying Under Oath
In addition to failures to disclose, another related issue is lying on the stand while under oath about the medical negligence. This may include the doctor who is the defendant in the lawsuit, the medical staff who was working with the doctor or other doctors who are called to the stand by the defense. Recently, NPR published an article detailing a doctor’s story. The doctor had been called to the stand and asked about whether or not he had ever seen his colleague provide care that did not meet the standards expected. He told NPR that he had lied on the stand in order to protect his colleague. His story illustrates that the problem is real and one that must be addressed.
The Role of Medical Experts
Proving medical negligence can be difficult. It may be even more so when doctors lie, fail to disclose errors or try to cover up errors they or their colleagues have made. Because malpractice lawyers are aware of this problem, they rely on medical experts. The experts are able to review the medical documentation, nurse’s notes, medication records and doctor’s notes in order to determine whether or not malpractice happened. An expert may also review the care that was provided in order to determine whether it met the expected standards or if it instead fell short. Experts may then write reports detailing their findings. The reports may be used in negotiations. If a settlement is not reached, the experts may then testify on the plaintiff’s behalf so that the jury may have a clearer understanding of what happened.
It is unfortunate that doctors sometimes fail to disclose when they have made medical mistakes or lie about them, but it does happen. Malpractice lawyers may uncover the mistakes and the failures to disclose by getting the help of medical experts.