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Surgeon admits to lying during medical malpractice trial

Iowa residents may be shocked to learn that a distinguished surgeon has admitted to lying under oath during a medical malpractice trial. The South Dakota doctor says that he lied while testifying on behalf of one of his medical partners who had been sued by a patient left permanently disabled after an operation. The patient lost the case.

While this kind of admission from a doctor is rare, health care research has revealed a disturbing pattern of disregard for patients when doctors or hospitals fear medical malpractice lawsuits. Studies have found that patients who suffer injuries are sometimes not told the truth, and less than half of the doctors who responded to a Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety survey felt that patients should be told about serious medical errors.

The doctor says that the culture of the medical profession allowed him to view his perjury as supporting a colleague rather than lying, and he has now changed his position and become a staunch advocate for patients. He says that respect for doctors makes things difficult for plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases, and he admits that he has only come forward now because he is retired and safe from retaliation.

In addition to being widely respected, the defendants in medical malpractice doctor error cases usually have deep pockets and experienced attorneys. However, the damages awarded in these cases are sometimes high, and insurance companies may consider a settlement to avoid the uncertain outcome of a civil trial. To prevail in this type of legal action, plaintiffs must establish that the care they received failed to meet generally accepted medical standards, and their attorneys may call upon retired physicians who have nothing to fear to provide an impartial expert opinion.

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