The law suit that I will be discussing is regarding a widow in Gwinnett County, Georgia who was awarded a three million dollar verdict in a medical malpractice case involving her deceased husband who suffered a fatal heart attack during a sex act with two other people. Summarize the actions that lead to the lawsuit.
William Martinez is the deceased 31 year old police officer who saw Dr. Sreeni Gangasani at the Cardiovascular Group in Lawrenceville, Georgia due to him experiencing problems with his heart. The estate attorneys who were working on his widow’s behalf state that Dr. Gangasani should have recognized his heart symptoms and given him the necessary precautions regarding engaging in any strenuous activities. A stress test was ordered for William Martinez; however it was not scheduled for eight days following his initial visit with Dr. Gangasani. Following his appointment with Dr. Gangasani, William Martinez went to a motel in Atlanta, Georgia and joined a man and a woman for an encounter. He was later found on the floor of the hotel room by the female who was involved in the rendezvous on March 12, 2009. The jury felt that Dr. Gangasani was 60% liable for Martinez’s death and as a result, his widow was awarded the $3 million settlement. Dr. Gangasani is preparing to appeal this verdict and judgment. Discuss what management could have done in terms of risk management to have prevented the events that lead to the lawsuit.
Heart disease is prevalent in many people across the world. This is a deadly disease and anyone who is claiming to have problems involving their heart should undergo a stress test. In the above scenario, management at the clinic of Dr. Gangasani failed to take the necessary steps to put a protocol in place when patients complain of chest pain or other issues with their heart. Management had a responsibility to make sure that these patients are able to receive a stress test during their visits. If they were not able to facilitate this testing in their office, they should have sent an urgent request to have the patient immediately go to the local hospital for the stress test. This would prevent any issues regarding malpractice. At the very least, follow up appointments should be made within the next 24 hours should the patient not be able to complete the stress test at the initial visit. Discuss the ethical considerations reflected in the laws applicable to this case.
Although ethical and legal conduct and practices are often in harmony, in many areas ethical principles and the issues surrounding medical liability appear to come into conflict. Disclosure of errors; quality improvement activities; the practice of defensive medicine; dealing with patients who wish to leave against medical advice; provision of futile care at the insistence of patients or families; and the various protections of Good Samaritan laws are just a few of these. In addition, the ethical principles governing the conduct of physicians serving as expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases have become a subject of intense interest in recent years (Ethical Issues in Medical Malpractice, para. 1, August 24, 2006). Successful medical malpractice lawsuits generally require proof of all of the following:
•The care provided was below the ordinary standard of care that would be provided by similar health care practitioners under similar circumstances. •A professional relationship existed between the health care practitioner and the injured person. •The person was harmed because of the deviation from the standard of care (Medical Malpractice, para. 1, October 2007, Charles Sabatino) Due to the current increase in lawsuits, many doctors are now forced to act in ways that are not always beneficial to their patients. They are seeking to prevent any legal actions from occurring against them in an effort to maintain their medical license. In some ways, the lawsuits have forced some doctors to be better in their field in order to prevent these lawsuits from occurring. Determine which sources of law would be most relevant in this case and how management could leverage knowledge of those sources to prevent similar instances in the future.
The management team could use a number of sources of law to prevent future malpractice suits. The first would be precedents, which is a legal decision or form of proceeding serving as an authoritative rule or pattern in future similar or analogous cases. It is also a case, act, or decision that serves as a guide or justification for subsequent situations. Next would be the use of customs which is a habit or practice that the firm can establish that dictates what rules and regulations would be applied in the clinic. Lastly, the management team could use legislation which is a source of law that consists in the declaration of legal rules by a competent authority. This legislation makes certain laws and certain practices legal and certain practices illegal. The firm would be aware of the proper way to conduct their business based on the laws mandated in Georgia
Recommend what management might be able to do to pursue alternate resolutions (outside of court).
Management could have attempted to pursue settlement mediation with Martinez’s widow. If the mediation failed, they could have proceeded with a hearing. The settlement mediation would have included a third party mediator who was a neutral party to hear both sides and then offer a suggestion of a compromise. Death cases are a bit more personal so this ADR (alternate dispute resolution) may have been futile in this case. At the very least a mediator is someone who is more familiar with the law and understood all of the legal details regarding this case.
Ethical Issues in Medical Malpractice, para. 1, August 24, 2006, retrieved July 31, 2012 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16877140 Medical Malpractice, para. 1, October 2007, Charles Sabatino, Retrieved July 31, 2012 from http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/fundamentals/legal_and_ethical_issues/medical_malpractice.html