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Wrongful death lawsuit underscores need to reform California's medical malpractice laws

A San Luis Obispo county family is seeking damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against a doctor who made a fatal mistake. Despite efforts to improve medical safety, studies reveal that more than 250,000 patients die each year due to preventable medical mistakes.

In this instance, the medical malpractice lawsuit stems from the actions of a doctor who sent a woman home with a massive infection and blood clot, rather than admitting her to a hospital. Had the woman been treated appropriately, her death could have been prevented, the family asserts. Instead, she passed away in her sleep a month after being discharged.

While this case is making it through the court system, it highlights the glaring injustice in medical malpractice litigation. Due to the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA), caps on non-economic damages are limited to $250,000. Thus, without substantial economic damages (such as wage loss claims), it may be not be viable to bring a medical malpractice case. This includes situations involving children, the elderly and non-working adults. Here, the decedent had been the primary breadwinner. However, had she not had a job, it may be difficult to pursue the case.

Medical malpractice cases are complex and often rely on expert opinions concerning whether a breach of the standard of care occurred. As such, where the potential recovery is limited and the cost to pursue the case is high, it may be impossible for many families to access justice. Patient safety advocates including medical malpractice attorneys are seeking to overturn MICRA to ensure all patients and their families may obtain redress for injuries sustained due to negligent medical care.

At Bostwick & Peterson, we are committed to helping those affected my medical malpractice. For more information or if you believe you or a loved has suffered harm due to a preventable medical error, please contact the dedicated Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate, confidential, consultation.


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