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Should you sue your neurologist?

From a legal standpoint, neurologists have it rough. A new report from Medscape indicates that approximately two-thirds of all neurologists and neurosurgeons have been sued at least once for malpractice.

Most of the doctors say that they were surprised by the lawsuits against them -- and 86% felt like the lawsuits were unfair. Plus, 76% openly claimed that patients were mostly to blame for the lawsuits because they "simply don't understand medical risks" and then blame their doctors when bad things happen. Slightly more than one-fourth of neurologists think that the lawsuits are due to constant advertising about medical malpractice by attorneys and 12% say patients are just looking for a payday.

Are neurologists simply unlucky? Are patients truly taking their frustrations regarding their medical conditions out on the hapless doctors who serve them?

Probably not.

Here's the reality: Doctors make mistakes all the time. Of the malpractice lawsuits captured in the survey, 45% related to a neurologist's failure to diagnose or the fact that a proper diagnosis was delayed and the delay in treatment led to a poor outcome. Other common causes of patient lawsuits include:

  • Poor outcomes or an avoidable progression of the disease
  • Adverse complications from surgery or treatment
  • Wrongful death
  • Medication errors
  • A failure to educate or warn the patient of potential adverse reactions

Specialists, more than any other kind of doctor, have a responsibility for making sure that they look carefully at a patient's symptoms, medications, history and complaints. They also need to do their due diligence when it comes to making sure that a patient fully understands their treatment plan and any risks that go along with that plan. When they don't do those things, patients suffer. When patients suffer, they (or their surviving family member) have every right to seek redress from the doctor that made a mistake.

If you were injured by a neurologist or neurosurgeon's lax practices or careless attitude toward your health, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be necessary to protect your future. Don't buy into the notion that all the lawsuits these doctors face are just frivolous or misunderstandings.

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