Recently, the New York Times published an article about a cardiologist in Indiana who allegedly performed unnecessary surgeries. According to the piece, 293 patients filed personal injury lawsuits against Dr. Arvind Gandhi and two of his associates. Many patients were shocked when the story first broke last year. Dr. Gandhi was supposed to be one of the best cardiologists—people trusted him implicitly, placing their lives in his hands. They believed him and his associates when they told them they needed stents or pacemakers. He cut them open and gave them treatments many now claim they didn’t need. How did they know Dr. Gandhi had acted inappropriately? How did they learn that he lied to them?
The notion of medical malpractice can be scary. We trust doctors to diagnose us and help us when we’re unwell. We don’t want to believe they would willfully or negligently mishandle our complaints or put our well being at risk, however we can’t ignore the evidence. According to statistics from the National Practitioner Data Bank, almost 3,000 medical malpractice claims were filed in New York in 2014. So how do you know if you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice? When should you call a New York personal injury lawyer?
Let’s use cardiological care for our example. Dr. Bender has a lucrative practice and you were referred to him by a friend who had a pacemaker inserted a couple of years ago. He credited Dr. Bender with extending his life, so of course you made an appointment to get the recurrent pain in your chest checked out. Dr. Bender informs you you’ve been having minor heart attacks and that you need to have stents placed to clear your arteries and a pacemaker to help keep your heart strong. You have the procedure done and don’t think about it until about a year later. You’ve moved and don’t want to drive to see Dr. Bender so you make an appointment with a new cardiologist. He takes one look at tests and x-rays and asks you why you had a pacemaker put in. He informs you that the pacemaker is unnecessary and may actually be causing damage to your heart. You schedule an appointment with the new heart doc to have it taken out. Afterwards, frustrated, you consider your options.
In this scenario, Dr. Bender appears to have done an unnecessary procedure which eventually caused some damage to the patient. If we assume that most doctors would not have treated the patient in the same way, then we would say that Dr. Bender did not meet the standard of care expected from his profession. He was negligent—whether willfully or not— and he caused damage to a patient. Those three words are what clues us into a possible medical malpractice case. A New York personal injury attorney will tell you that for an injury to be considered medical malpractice under personal injury law, a medical professional (doctor, nurse, dentist, etc.) must have behaved negligently, thus causing some sort of damage to a person, whether it be emotional, psychological, physical, or monetary.
If you’ve ever had an experience like the one described above, it is important to mention that there is a statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits. In New York, a victim of medical malpractice has 2.5 years after the incident in question to file a claim. Because of this, it is extremely important that individuals who believe they have been injured by a medical professional seek legal advice as soon as they can. Thankfully, reputable New York personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. A good lawyer will be able to help you determine whether you have a case and how you should proceed.