Amy K. Witherite, a leading Dallas personal injury lawyer Interviewed by Dallas Observer. Ms. Witherite has won many Veteran’s Administration Medical Malpractice cases and will work hard in your behalf to win the compensation you and your family deserves. Dallas, Texas (JusticeNewsFlash.com) — When the Dallas Observer looked to Amy Witherite for expert commentary on the challenges of medical malpractice law, the article was to detail the troubled career – and troubling cases – of orthopedic surgeon Richard Buch. But the bigger story it told was the unintended, worrisome consequences of the so-called tort ‘reform’ passed in Texas in 2003, with problem doctors like Buch – who has been sued for malpractice a dozen times, has had his license temporarily suspended for unprofessional behavior, and has seen his operating privileges at four hospitals revoked, suspended, or relinquished under pressure – more easily able to evade accountability, while injured patients are having a harder time bringing cases to court.
The 2003 measures in Texas had a simple, if misguided, goal: to eliminate frivolous malpractice suits, which were seen by the medical profession – via dubious ‘anecdotal evidence’ – as driving away many doctors. But the legislation – which caps pain and suffering damages at $250,000 and introduces onerous, often unfair, procedural requirements – makes it hard to bring the most meritorious cases, too, particularly when a medical malpractice suit can cost between $100,000 and $200,000 to litigate. That’s forced many lawyers to abandon these cases, and forced many needlessly injured patients into a corner, with little recourse or opportunity to seek justice. “It’s difficult to cost effectively prosecute these cases and put any money into a family’s pocket,” says Witherite, one of the relatively few Texas attorneys who still litigates medical malpractice suits.
Even before the 2003 measures, medical malpractice was one of the law’s most challenging areas of litigation. As Witherite – a frequent speaker on the subject — told the Dallas Observer, proving causation is the biggest obstacle in a medical malpractice suit. Surgery, medications, pre-existing conditions, and nursing care can all affect the outcome. Making the connections can be hard – and harder still given that the 2003 legislation creates procedural rules that often hinder the ability of patients and their attorneys to learn the true story – and cause – behind an injury. Depositions can’t be taken until lawyers submit a report on the case, but when medical records are missing or lost – an all-too-frequent occurrence – reports can’t be written until depositions reveal what happened. For injured patients, that’s a cruel Catch-22. Without a report, a case can’t survive under the 2003 changes. Moreover, without full details on just what happened in the hospital or doctor’s office, expert witnesses can be hard to find – and their absence can doom a case. Indeed, several of the suits brought against Dr. Buch were dropped not because they lacked merit but because experts could not be retained.
The problem, says Witherite, is that the Texas legislature aimed at the wrong target. Instead of focusing on patients, it should have looked closer at their doctors. “Five percent of doctors commit 50 percent of malpractice,” she says. Instead of making it harder for victims to sue, lawmakers should be making it easier to investigate – and discipline – renegade, dangerous doctors.
And perhaps that’s the real tragedy Dr. Bush’s story tells: It wasn’t weak cases that kept his injured patients from prevailing in court. It was a weakened legal system. Instead of redress, victims found roadblocks – and like the injuries they suffered, that’s been both needless and unfair.
If you have been affected by medical malpractice in Veteran’s Hospital, it is imperative that you contact Amy K. Witherite, a leading Dallas personal injury lawyer. Ms. Witherite has won many Veteran’s Administration Medical Malpractice cases and will work hard in your behalf to win the compensation you and your family deserves.
Visit Ms. Witherite website or call 1-800-779-6665