Many New York residents believe that the United States health care system is among the best in the world. According to the Institute of Medicine, however, nearly 98,000 people are killed from medical malpractice every year. While some medical errors may be unavoidable, others are caused by acts of negligence. In 2004, a New York woman sued a fertility clinic after giving birth to a baby that was obviously not her husbands. It emerged that the clinic had used semen from a stranger by mistake.
Medical malpractice cases involving wrong-site surgery are difficult for most people to understand. Surgeons are generally seen as talented and experienced physicians, but a Florida man was paid more than a million dollars after an operating room team amputated the wrong leg in 1995. Another shocking malpractice case involved an Arizona man who died in the arms of his wife. The woman filed a lawsuit against the assisted living facility that had been treating him after an autopsy revealed ketchup packets, paper towels and plastic bags in his stomach.
Perhaps the most disturbing recent malpractice case involved a West Virginia man who endured the nightmare of being awake and able to feel pain during surgery. The man was unable to move or speak for the 15 minutes it took for the anesthetic to take effect, and the experience left him devastated. He took his own life two weeks later.
While negligence may be clear in cases like these, establishing liability in a medical malpractice lawsuit can often be a challenging and nebulous process. Attorneys seeking compensation for victims may call upon independent experts to demonstrate that the care provided did not meet accepted medical standards.