An informed consumer of medical healthcare services makes a wise patient, unless negligence occurs with the result being a wrongful death claim.
Please note that I am not an attorney nor am I providing legal advice. Nonetheless, consumers need to know where to find information when a loved one dies when medical malpractice is suspected.
What is the most common cause of medical malpractice in the U.S.? The answer is human error, specifically, lack of communication between doctors or between doctors and the healthcare team. For hospital patients, the most common causes for medical malpractice claims are surgical errors. For outpatients, the most common cause is misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. Some medical malpractice claims arise from mistakes due to medication errors, anesthesia errors and surgery errors.
But, let’s look at Ohio and medical malpractice information. Where do consumers find information about medical malpractice claims in Ohio?
You can peruse the Ohio Revised Codes. “ORC §3929.302 requires all entities that provide medical professional liability insurance to health care providers located in Ohio — including authorized insurers, surplus lines insurers, risk retention groups and self-insurers — to report data to the department regarding medical professional liability claims that close during the year. In addition, each entity must report the costs of defending medical professional liability claims and paying judgments and/or settlements on behalf of health care providers and health care facilities.”
The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) releases Ohio Medical Professional Liability Closed Claim Reports that evaluates Ohio medical professional liability environments.
See Ohio Revised Code 3929.302 and Ohio Administrative Code 3901-1-64.
What medical specialty had the most claims in Ohio in 2015, the most recent date provided by ODI? “Specialty Comparisons: When claims were broken down by medical specialty, internal medicine had the most claims at 133, with 20 resulting in paid indemnity averaging $347,292. For those specialties that are broken out, radiology had the highest average paid indemnity of $747,917 for six claims with payments of 77 reported claims.”
According to the Ohio 2014 Medical Professional Liability Closed Claim Report, 3,100 medical malpractice lawsuits were filed. Around 740 of the 3,100 lawsuits resulted in payment, and totaled more than $215 million.
What medical specialty had the most claims in Ohio in 2014? “Specialty Comparisons: When claims were broken down by medical specialty, orthopedic surgery had the most claims at 202, with nine resulting in paid indemnity averaging $277,571. For those specialties that are broken out, cardiovascular disease had the highest average paid indemnity of $1,038,750 for eight claims with payments of 63 reported claims.” www.insurance.ohio.gov.
What about wrongful death claims in Ohio? Wrongful death claims in Ohio are governed by Ohio Revised Statutes section 2125, which defines wrongful death as caused by the “wrongful act, neglect or default” of another. See Ohio Revised Code. “Chapter 2125: Action for wrongful death 2125.01 Action for wrongful death.
What about the statues of limitation for medical malpractice in Ohio? “(1) Except as provided in division (D)(2) of this section, a civil action for wrongful death shall be commenced within two years after the decedent’s death.”
How do I know if a physician has been sued? Since lawsuits are public record, you can check court records in the county where a doctor practices or has practiced. Some court records are available online.
Federation of State Medical Boards. Its primary responsibilities are to protect the U.S. public and support state medical boards in licensing, discipline, and regulating physicians. www.fsmb.org.
Visit the State Medical Board of Ohio to find out if your doctor has been disciplined for violations. med.ohio.gov.
Consumers may also contact their public library’s reference department for help in finding information.
All this mumbo-jumbo is confusing, and that’s why we have to hire attorneys. Furthermore, it is important to consult with an attorney with experience in Ohio wrongful death cases.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.