Doctors are among the most respected and trusted members of our society. They go through many years of difficult schooling and their job is to help the injured and infirm. That is what makes it so hard when a doctor commits medical malpractice. “Medical malpractice occurs when a…health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.”
In the medical field, negligence occurs when a doctor’s actions fail to rise to the standard of care. That is the level of care a similar health care professional would provide in the same circumstances. Proving a medical malpractice claim, therefore, requires a physician in a similar field review the conduct and provide their own unbiased opinion on the matter.
Many states have put this “standard of care test” into law. In Colorado, C.R.S. 13-20-602 requires plaintiffs to file a “certificate of review” within 60 days of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. The certificate must confirm that the plaintiff consulted with a physician with expertise in the area who concluded that the claim “does not lack substantial justification” as defined in C.R.S. 13-14-102(4).
For example, if you think your heart surgeon messed up, another heart surgeon will have to agree. Finding a physician in a similar field can be difficult and costly. There is also no guarantee that they’ll see things your way. For this reason, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney before proceeding. Even then, that doesn’t mean you win. A jury will still have to determine whether your doctor committed medical malpractice
The Governmental Immunity Wrinkle
With the all the government-owned hospitals—and government-employed doctors—the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act also comes into play in many medical malpractice claims. This law allows a person to sue the government for certain acts, which otherwise would be forbidden by law. But it also requires a person intending to pursue a claim against any government entity or employee (i.e., a state-owned hospital or employee of that hospital) to serve a notice of claim within 180 days of the alleged malpractice. A person must put certain information in the notice, and send it within 180 days or lose their claim. Many people don’t know about this requirement and end up losing their right to file a claim. Don’t let this happen to you. If medical malpractice has affected you or a family member, call an attorney you can trust to review your case.
By: David Law