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Medical malpractice: Death of physician does not affect lawsuit

Wisconsin residents who suffer at the hands of a medical professional often go through a range of emotions before they are ready to move forward and take action against the responsible party. Depending on the type of medical error, there may be a period of physical recovery that dominates the concentration of the patient as well as friends and family. Following the immediate aftermath, there may be a period of psychological adjustment, during which the patient may feel guilt, anger, fear or frustration about the situation. However, many people will pass through these stages in time, and may ultimately decide to move forward with a medical malpractice suit against the party or parties they deem responsible for the error.

One family underscores the options available in obtaining justice for an act of medical malpractice. In 2008, a woman went to a plastic surgeon and had reconstructive breast surgery following her double mastectomy. When the time came for follow-up treatment, she was told that the doctor was no longer practicing due to illness. In reality, he had agreed to a voluntary suspension of his medical license in response to multiple complaints from other patients.

The woman went to another surgeon, who discovered that the original doctor had installed the wrong implant devices into her body. She had to undergo yet another surgery to correct the error. In the meantime, the original doctor passed away, complicating the patient’s ability to hold him accountable for his mistakes. However, the woman and her family decided to move forward and file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the estate of the surgeon. They are asking for punitive and compensatory damages, as well as interest.

There are many options available to find justice in a case of medical malpractice, in Wisconsin and elsewhere. While there will always be medical errors and unfavorable outcomes, medical professionals have the responsibility to ensure that they are providing the highest standards of care possible. When a doctor or other medical professional fails to meet that standard, there are repercussions. While it is no longer possible to confront the doctor in a court of law and ask that he be held accountable for his actions, the victim and her family may be able to recover some of the costs associated with the aftermath of the error if they are able to prove that he caused her injury by negligent acts.

Source: West Virginia Record, “Family sues physician’s estate for medical malpractice,” Kyla Asbury, Sept. 17, 2012

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