Girardi | Keese

The 'Epidemic' of Bully Doctors

California has made it tougher in recent years to file successful medical malpractice cases against health care providers who do wrong against their patients, but we continue to represent injured patients who deserve a chance at justice.

The defeat of Prop. 46 is one such example of our state making it tougher. Last year, Prop. 46 (had it succeeded) would have raised the cap on damages for pain and suffering, which is currently set at $250,000. Its defeat puts seriously injured malpractice victims at a disadvantage. Mistakes happen, sometimes very serious ones, and those who suffer from those mistakes should have an opportunity to obtain justice.

A recent article in Slate reminds us that doctors aren't infallible. Alexandra Robbins writes about doctors throwing fits: "A doctor-bully epidemic is jeopardizing both nurses and patients. In news reports and hospital break rooms, stories abound of physicians berating nurses, hurling profanities, or even physically threatening or assaulting them."

As Robbins describes the general situation, nurses feel as though they cannot speak up at work - retaliation, in response to a nurse's whistleblowing, is a common theme. Even outright firing. The troubling aspect of this is the fact that "when nurses don't speak up," as Robbins writes, "there's a risk that people will suffer or die."

The doctor-bullying epidemic, as Robbins calls it, seems to touch on at least two areas of law, that of medical malpractice and employment law. It harms patients and it harms the nurses who serve those patients.

At Girardi | Keese, we don't particularly care that California voters and lawmakers seem to believe that medical malpractice is a creation of greedy plaintiff lawyers - we will keep representing those who deserve justice. Medical malpractice law exists because doctors make mistakes from time to time. Sometimes those mistakes come in the form of bullying, which can ultimately lead to harm to the patient. Other people - nurses and patients - are the ones who are paying for those mistakes.

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