Maryland Hospitals Recommend Medical Malpractice Lawyers to Patients
I just finished reading an article titled, “Malpractice Lawyer Recommendations Come from Unlikely Source: Hospitals.”
In the article, the journalist recounts the case of Ada George’s thyroid treatment gone wrong in a Maryland hospital. During the course of treatment, the woman was brain damaged and is currently comatose. The hospital apologized and offered compensation twice. The George family twice refused compensation. Then the hospital went one step further, offering the name of a medical malpractice attorney who would handle their case at a reduced rate.
You are probably asking yourself, “WHAT! The hospital is asking to be sued for medical malpractice?” Yes, and it makes sense.
One of the major drivers in the expense of medical malpractice lawsuits is the length of the process. According to one actuarial consulting firm, malpractice litigation costs Americans at least $30 billion a year, and successfully defending a medical malpractice claim costs an average of $100,000.
Hospitals, and the attorneys they refer, explain that a quickly resolved medical malpractice dispute is better for everyone – the doctor, the hospital and the injured patient. The faster the lawsuit is resolved, the less expensive it is for the physician and hospital and the injured patient gets justly compensated in a timely fashion.
The obvious question is whether there is a conflict of interest. If the attorney makes a living off of referrals from a hospital, how vigorously will the attorney pursue the hospital?
The attorneys interviewed in the article brush off the conflict of interest argument, saying that they first and foremost represent their clients. But like the author of the article says, how many cheating husbands would recommend a divorce attorney to their wife? Or how many accident victims would accept an attorney referral from the driver who just hit them?