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Web letter: Get legislature to fix malpractice law

Recently, I experienced a situation that should be of concerned to all patients that have had malpractice experiences with their doctors.

I broke my left wrist and was referred to one orthopedic practice for treatment. After the treatment was completed and I was deemed healed, I discovered that my wrist was misaligned because it had not been set properly. As a result of this malpractice, I experience pain every day and most upsetting is not being able to play catch with my son. The orthopedic practice has refused to take steps to return my wrist to some semblance of normality.

I consulted an attorney to discuss a malpractice lawsuit. This is where I discovered that if you are a patient of malpractice the deck is stacked against you.

The Indiana Medical Malpractice Act is a special law designed to protect doctors and other health care providers. In order to file a malpractice lawsuit, you must first go through a presuit procedure where a panel of three doctors determines the validity of the malpractice suit. Does this seem to be a jury of your peers?

The cost to the patient for this is in the range of $3,800. If the patient does get past this hearing, the patient must pay this same panel of doctors to testify. This can cost up to an additional $20,000.

This act is designed to protect doctors. It can be cost-prohibitive for any patient to proceed with a malpractice lawsuit.

Where is the protection for the patient? It is up to the Indiana General Assembly to review this act to make the malpractice process more fair not only to the doctor; but, to the patient as well.

A panel of three doctors seems to stack the deck against the patient. Why is it not possible to have a panel mix of doctors and nonmedical personnel? Why are these costs so prohibited to the patient? Why are these doctors who injure a patient allowed to escape punishment because of a law that is clearly designed to protect only their interests?

I would call on all of our representatives to refuse any donations from the health care lobby in order to garner a more fair law.