Many Montana patients know that medical errors can cause serious complications. If this happens, they could potentially file a medical malpractice lawsuits against the doctor who caused the error. Many of these cases rely on expert witness testimony which is usually provided by colleagues. As one doctor admitted, this can be problematic.
A former South Dakota surgeon who has since become a patient advocate recalled how he was called to provide testimony at a medical malpractice trial approximately 20 years prior. The palintiff had suffered a stroke and permanent disability. While the former doctor privately admitted that he had questioned his colleague's skill, he lied and stated that the colleague's work had never been substandard.
It is not known how often doctors lie to protect their colleagues. However, studies have shown that doctors frequently do not tell their patients if they have caused harm. In fact, many doctors do not look favorably on telling the truth to patients when mistakes are made. Even further, medical staff are often afraid to speak when they believe problems are occurring due to fear of retaliation.
In order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, an attorney for the plaintiff will have to demonstrate that the patient was harmed, and that such harm was caused by the failure of the health care professional or facility to exhibit the requisite standard of care. Legal counsel will endeavor to do so by the use of the opinions of medical experts which will be based upon their review of the patient's medical records and other evidence.