Unfortunately, law suits have increased. There is a little over 2,600 serious law suits a year. Additionally, it's not unreasonable to believe that about 1% of physicians deserve a serious...

 Unfortunately, law suits have increased. There is a little over 2,600 serious law suits a year. Additionally, it's not unreasonable to believe that about 1% of physicians deserve a serious lawsuit a year. Between 44,000 and 98,000 die in hospitals each year due to preventable medical mistakes (MedicalMalpractice.com, 2009). Understanding all this, do you think the lawsuits are excessive? Understanding that many will threaten and some will even go through the initial legal steps, but only 1% pay out... What’s the impact on the ethical issues pertaining to medical records when there are lawsuits happening? MedicalMalpractice.com (2009). Retrieved on November 30, 2013 from http://www.medicalmalpractice.com/National-Medical-Malpractice-Facts.cfm

Asked on by cuhuegbu

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would argue that it is impossible to know if medical malpractice lawsuits are “excessive” simply by looking at the numbers of lawsuits being brought.  This is like deciding whether there is racial discrimination in a given field just by looking at how many people of each race are in that field.

Let us imagine that we have a school district where 70% of the students are Hispanic but there are very few Hispanic teachers.  Does that mean the school district is discriminating?  What if, for example, few Hispanics have been applying?  That might mean that no discrimination has occurred even though it looks like the district is present.

The same goes for medical malpractice suits.  The simple fact that there are many malpractice suits does not necessarily mean that there are too many suits.  It may be that there are many mistakes being made and that, therefore, there should be many lawsuits.  You state in your question that there are tens of thousands of deaths from preventable medical mistakes each year.  This seems to imply that there are not too many lawsuits.  If there truly are large numbers of mistakes made by doctors, then there should be large numbers of medical malpractice suits.

The major connection to medical records has to do with the fact that malpractice suits will make use of medical records.  Doctors can use medical records to defend themselves.  Plaintiffs can use them to prove that mistakes were made.  If malpractice suits succeed, the whole hospital or clinic is harmed.  This makes it at least somewhat tempting for medical records personnel to make sure that the records do not show evidence of malpractice.  That means that these personnel are faced with challenges to their ethics.  Will they preserve all records in their original form or will they alter or delete records to prevent harm from happening to their organization and/or to doctors with whom they have personal relationships?

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