Why don't good doctors speak up when bad doctors hurt people?
As attorneys who handle claims for victims of medical malpractice, we spend a lot of our time persuading good doctors to come forward and testify in public against negligent doctors.
Over the years our medical malpractice team has interviewed dozens of patients who come into our office and tell us that a doctor or a nurse has told them that they should “go see a lawyer” because of what another doctor did, or that one of their doctors told them that “this is the worst case of medical malpractice I have ever seen.”
Yet when we contact those doctors, they clam up in a hurry.
Why is this happening? There are several reasons.
Nobody Wants to Anger the Doctor Next Door
Nobody wants to testify against someone they are going to have to deal with in the future. For doctors, this is a big issue. If you are a neurosurgeon in Dallas, even as big as the medical community is, you know all of the other neurosurgeons. They may not be your friends and you may not think much of them, but you see them in operating rooms and doctors’ lounges in hospitals every day. You will see them at medical meetings and seminars. They sit on the boards of hospitals at which you may want to practice someday.
If you are a doctor in a small town in Texas or Arkansas, you know all the other doctors. They belong to the same clubs, and their kids go to the same school your kids go to.
Now imagine that you are such a doctor and a lawyer you don’t know calls you and asks you to review a file for a medical malpractice case against a negligent doctor you know.
Would you testify against the negligent doctor, knowing that you will see him often and that he will complain bitterly about you to other members of the local profession? Almost certainly not.
The result is that most doctors will not testify against another doctor, even a negligent one, in medical malpractice litigation. But the reality is unfortunately even worse: many doctors will readily testify for the defense of other doctors, even when they have made mistakes that hurt people. Sadly, these doctors don't admit what they have done until years later--when it is too late for justice. See an example of one such doctor here.
“Doctors Shouldn’t Be Held Accountable For Their Mistakes”
The second reason good doctors won’t testify against negligent doctors in a medical malpractice case is an ugly one: many doctors feel misplaced loyalty to all other doctors, no matter how negligent, and truly feel that patients have no right to sue doctors for their mistakes – that negligent doctors should be above the law.
Unless you have friends who are doctors, this may seem incredible, but it is true. Many doctors truly believe that they should be treated as a special class of citizens. They want special laws protecting them from being sued, special caps on the damages they have to pay when they hurt people, and other limitations that won’t apply if they want to sue you for something.
Sadly, many doctors are not interested in equality under the law. They think they deserve to be treated better than everyone else and that when doctors make mistakes, they shouldn’t have to be accountable for the damage they cause.
Insurance Companies and Bad Doctors Prevent Honest Doctors from Telling the Truth
Our Little Rock and Dallas medical malpractice lawyers have also seen an increasing trend of medical malpractice insurance companies – the companies that have to pay settlements when medical malpractice is proven – forbidding any doctor insured by them from assisting a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case. Insurance companies are trying to silence good doctors to prevent them from speaking out about the negligence of bad doctors.
Doctors are routinely threatened by insurance companies, by their peers, by hospitals that they work at, and by the partners they work with – all in an effort to make it hard for victims of medical malpractice to get the justice they deserve.
Getting to the Truth
The effects of this “conspiracy of silence” are felt hundreds of times a day, every day. Doctors cover for other doctors. Nobody tells patients or their families about the medical malpractice that has caused their suffering. Records are “lost” or altered. Good doctors are afraid to testify.
It takes a strong doctor to face all of these threats and still stand up and tell the truth in front of a jury. It takes experienced medical malpractice lawyers to find those doctors and to sift through the facts in order to get to the truth.
Let us help you get to the truth in your medical malpractice litigation so that you can receive the compensation you deserve in your time of need.
Please contact our experienced medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule your free initial consultation. Polewski & Associates serves clients in Dallas and throughout North Texas.