The Price of Medical Malpractice
April 7, 2010 | Medical Malpractice
Errors committed by medical professionals are much harder to stomach than those made by people in any other profession. Doctors are the ones we depend on to keep us healthy, and to make us healthy when we’re ill. They are the last ones we expect to make us sicker, or, worst of all, to kill us through negligence, ignorance, or flat out error. Every doctor, upon graduation from medical school takes an oath to fulfill their obligation to the best of their ability. Doctors, as human beings, cannot be expected to be perfect, or to never make mistakes. But there are times when those mistakes stem from carelessness, or the desire to protect themselves while they are treating patients.
Some doctors practice not preventive medicine, but defensive medicine. They prescribe drugs that may or may not be needed, regardless of expense or risk, so that if something does go wrong, they are able to answer for their actions by saying they did everything possible to treat the patient. For example, when a disease like H1N1 comes to the forefront, not only in the community but in the press, doctors may be more likely to dispense more medication more often because so much attention is focused on them, whether directly or indirectly. The last thing they want is to be sued for medical malpractice, and to have to admit that a drug like Tamiflu was available, but they failed to provide it.
In some cases, though, this can work to the opposite effect. Some drugs, although they have been given approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), may still end up doing more harm than good. This is becoming evident with vaccines like Gardasil that were created to combat cervical cancer. Several young girls have died as a result of receiving the vaccination.
The practice of dispensing this vaccine is now coming into question, not only because of the deaths that have been associated with it, but because of the practice of giving this vaccine in the first place. Cervical cancer is not a disease that has reached epidemic proportions anywhere in the world, and many people are asking why it was ever approved for the treatment of young girls, and whether it was tested thoroughly enough. Depending on the answers, many doctors may become the targets of malpractice suits for giving the vaccine without enough information, or enough cause to warrant it.
People want to trust their doctors. They spent several years in school and learning things on the job that most people would never have the time or inclination to learn themselves. But this doesn’t mean that a patient has to blindly follow a doctor’s advice. It’s still a good idea to try to educate yourself as much as possible, and be an active participant in your medical care, and that of your loved ones.