Medical Mistakes: Why Worry?

One in seven hospital patients experiences a medical error. In fact, medical mistakes cause upward of 200,000 deaths per year, making them the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Additionally, medical mistakes cost Medicare $4.4 billion a year.

Do State Medical Boards Protect Patients?

A study revealed that state medical boards fail to discipline over half of the nation’s doctors who have lost their clinical privileges or had them restricted by hospitals. If a doctor proves irresponsible, the doctor can easily go to another state to practice.

In California, It’s Worse

Less than 5% of doctors commit more than half of the medical malpractice in the U.S. However, California has protected these doctors for the last 40+ years by imposing a medical malpractice cap on non-economic damages. No matter how severe the injury is, or even if a death results, the cap is $250,000.

What’s the Problem?

The cap on non-economic medical malpractice damages was not indexed for inflation, and it would be well over $1 million today if it had been. The limitations imposed are incommensurate with the cost of the suit, effectively telling bad medical practitioners: you won’t be sued if you are sloppy.

Enter Bob Pack

After his son Troy and Alana Pack were hit and killed by a driver high on prescription pain pills 14 years ago, Bob Pack began a crusade to curb the rampant over-prescription of narcotics. The offending driver had been able to receive multiple fillings of her Vicodin prescription from a number of Kaiser facilities.

Pack sought to bring a claim against Kaiser for prescribing and providing Vicodin to the offending driver. However, he was unable to get representation because of the limitations of this old law. Pack learned that the 1975 limit on wrongful death damages had not increased with inflation. He then initiated a campaign to change the law. In 2014, Pack introduced an initiative dubbed the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act.

The initiative he proposed would have:

  • Raised the damage cap to adjust for 38 years of inflation.
  • Required surgical physicians or those who enjoy hospital privileges to undergo random drug testing, as well as testing after adverse medical events.
  • Require care providers to consult with the database before prescribing drugs that are at risk for being abused.

Unfortunately, the measure was defeated in 2014, and the $250,000 limit remains.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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