Medical Malpractice and Legal Issues

Any exemplary damages awarded to a client in a tort action based on health care or professional services shall be paid into a special fund that may be used, at the discretion of the Administrator of Guam Memorial Hospital, to improve medical services in the territory of Guam. 1. In summary, the laws of the Good Samaritan may, in appropriate circumstances and jurisdictions, exempt the Advocate from legal liability for the death, disfigurement or disability of the victim, provided that the Advocate acted in good faith, according to his or her level of education and in a rational manner. In some jurisdictions, Good Samaritan laws only protect those who have completed basic first aid training and are certified by a health organization, and provided they limit care to the scope of their training. In such jurisdictions, a person who does not have such training and chooses to provide first aid improperly may be held liable for errors. In other jurisdictions, however, any rescuer is exempt from legal liability as long as he has acted rationally. All evidence must be made by a preponderance of evidence. From a legal point of view, this means that any point presented as evidence of wrongdoing must be able to be true and not be true. The damages claimed in the case must be proved.

Damages may include additional medical expenses to correct or treat damage caused by negligence, loss of wages and pain, suffering and emotional scarring. The first element is that there was a legal obligation to the patient; This obligation always comes into play when a professional relationship is established between the patient and the healthcare provider. The general idea of a legal obligation is that in a civilized society, each person has a duty of care to others. If this concept is extended to the professional environment in which a physician provides services to a patient, the physician has a professional duty of care appropriate to the patient. In practice, this is the easiest for the patient to determine, as such an obligation is essentially assumed each time a physician takes over a patient`s care. There is no obligation if there is no relationship between physician and patient; However, when a relationship is established, such as covering patients for a colleague, covering a clinic treating needy patients, or providing emergency services to a motor vehicle accident victim, a duty of care ensues. In certain situations, the law may limit the liability of the attending physician for political reasons related to promoting medical care for needy patients or encouraging the intervention of medical witnesses in the event of an accident, even if an appropriate duty of care has been established. An exception to the duty of care is when the physician considers the patient to be unprofessional, for example outside the hospital or clinic or in a social environment. In such cases, no doctor-physician relationship is established and there is no obligation to provide appropriate medical care.

A medical malpractice lawsuit in the United States is brought through the filing of a subpoena, claim form, or complaint. These legal documents are called pleadings. The pleadings expose the alleged injustices committed by the defendant physician with a claim for compensation. In some jurisdictions, the action is brought by service of legal proceedings by physical service of documents on the defendant through a dispute server; These documents are then submitted to the court with an affidavit stating that they were given to the defendant physician in accordance with certain rules of procedure. I. A health care provider`s personal liability is limited to $250,000 for financial damages and related medical care and benefits in accordance with § 41-5-7 NMSA 1978. Any amount owing following a judgment or settlement exceeding $250,000 shall be paid out of the Fund, except as otherwise provided in Subdivision K of this division. The large spending of national wealth on health care in the United States is under scrutiny and reform efforts [8]. According to a World Bank report, the direct cost of administering the medical malpractice system in the United States in 1991 was $4.86 billion; This figure reflects insurance premiums paid by doctors and hospitals [13]. A REPORT BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES ESTIMATED THE COST OF MALPRACTICE INSURANCE FOR PHYSICIANS AT $6.3 BILLION IN 2002; with additional costs of US$60-108 billion related to the practice of defensive medicine, i.e. costs related to physician behavior in response to the threat of a lawsuit for alleged medical negligence [14].

Although the legal systems for dealing with medical malpractice in other developed countries are largely similar to those in the United States, there are differences that could guide future policy and reform efforts.