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When Doctors Lie to Protect Their Friends

LawMD

If you have worked at a particular job or in a specific profession for a long time, you probably feel an affinity for your coworkers or the other professionals in your industry. It is human nature to form into groups, and to align ourselves with other people who share similar interests, goals, and experiences.

For example, firefighters and police officers often describe their work as a “brotherhood.” Whether you’re a nurse, teacher, taxi driver, or construction worker, no one really “gets it” like your coworkers.

When you work hard, it’s important to have a strong support network. In most cases, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, sometimes solidarity can go too far. When people stand behind colleagues who have done harm, they can make a case go from bad to worse. In the most egregious cases, lying for a colleague or coworker can result in additional harm down the road.

This is especially true in cases involving medical malpractice, in which a doctor’s performance is assessed based on the standard of care used by other doctors in the same area and in the same medical specialty.

Doctor Confesses He Lied in Court

In a recent NPR report, a retired surgeon confessed that he lied under oath in a trial involving another doctor in his medical practice.

Dr. Lars Aanning, who is now a patient safety advocate, said he outright lied on the witness stand during a medical malpractice trial when asked if he had ever had cause to question the other doctor’s skill. According to Aanning, “doctors don’t squeal on doctors.”

Aanning expressed profound regret for his role in the trial, in which the jury sided with the doctor. In an interesting, and perhaps even poetic twist, he now assists the same lawyer who represented the plaintiff in that case, providing expert advice and testimony in other medical malpractice cases.

The report notes that it is difficult to determine how often doctors shield their colleagues from liability for medical mistakes, however a ProPublica survey of 1,000 patients found that just 1 in 5 were told they had been injured by a doctor or hospital. In the same survey, just 1 in 8 patients received an apology for the harm they suffered.

Repeat Offenders in Medical Malpractice

It’s important for doctors to tell the truth, not just because it’s the right and ethical thing to do, but because their testimony can help expose physicians who should not be practicing medicine.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one percent of doctors accounted for one-third of all medical malpractice claims paid out between 2005 and 2014.

In short, the same small percentage of doctors were responsible for 32 percent of medical mistake claims in a nine-year period. The co-author of the study called these doctors “frequent flyers” in the area of medical malpractice, because doctors who fell into this group tended to commit errors over and over again.

In fact, the one percent of high-risk doctors fit a pattern: They were mostly male, over 35 years old, and specialists in general surgery or internal medicine.

According to the study’s authors, establishing patterns is important, as it can help other researchers identify potentially unfit physicians and prevent future harm.

Contact a LawMD Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

If you have been harmed by a doctor’s mistake, or you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you have important rights. Speak to a LawMD medical malpractice lawyer for free today. Our lawyers are available to discuss your claim and help you determine the next steps in your case.

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