Why do people sue doctors? Get the full story from Dr. Stark at BS757.com.
In my career as a practicing Oncologist and medical-legal expert in malpractice litigation, on behalf of injured parties and defendants, I thought I understood why people sued their doctor. I assumed they did so out of anger over a bad outcome. Occasionally I would see a new patient in consultation whose cancer diagnosis had been delayed through physician error. Sometimes the patient appreciated that a delay had occurred. Less often he or she would ask me: “Should I sue the doctor who caused the delay?” When that happened I sensed, or perhaps inferred, anger from my patient.
When I started start writing about my litigation experience for these blogs it occurred to me that I might not really understand why patients sue, so I tried to find out. I could have asked the patients involved in these lawsuits, but most of them are dead and I was reluctant to stir up emotions among the living. Furthermore my contact in these cases was with the attorney, not the patient or his physician. In fact, I carefully avoided dealing with either the patient or the doctor. My Oncology practice involved complex emotional issues, and I wished to avoid these in my consulting work.
So I started calling personal injury lawyers with whom I had worked. I picked the most seasoned and capable of the many I had met. I asked them all the same question: “why do injured parties see you in the first place?” I was surprised by what I learned.