A 36-year-old woman said a gynecologist recommended a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy after genetic testing showed that she had a 50% chance of getting breast cancer and an 80% chance of uterine cancer. Months after the surgeries, this mother of five learned that her medical team misread the test results. Now she has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit for $1.8 million.
A medical malpractice lawsuit claims that a nurse practitioner misread test results, and neither the gynecologist nor the surgeon confirmed the results before surgery was recommended and ultimately performed.
According to the lawsuit, the woman was told she had the MLH1 gene mutation and Lynch syndrome. The National Institutes of Health states that Lynch syndrome increases the risks of cancer, particularly those in the colon and rectum, but also ovarian, uterine and other cancers. Considering the facts, the woman proceeded with the recommended surgeries – a total hysterectomy followed by a double mastectomy and reconstruction. It wasn’t until after both operations and breast reconstruction - which the woman claims led to multiple surgeries to repair - that she discovered her original tests were negative. At that point it was too late; the damage was done and it was too great to allow for implants.
“Her body and mental health was worth more than the $1.8 million that we are seeking,” said her attorney. “Oregon tort reform laws have strictly limited the amount of damages we can collect. Without these laws limiting damages, the claim would be far higher,” he said.
The right to trial by a jury is the most fundamental of our constitutional rights. Capping damages is a direct attack on those rights. Jurors, after thoughtful consideration of the evidence presented to them, should have the freedom to award damages based upon actual physical and emotional harm suffered by the victim.
The medical profession wants immunity from being responsible for negligence. Taking away the rights of patients injured by negligent doctors and hospitals will do nothing to improve health care; study after study has shown that tort reform does not lower a doctor’s insurance costs. Tort reform only provides inadequate compensation to victims. If wrongdoers are not accountable for their actions, then society – read “taxpayers” – will pay for the wrongdoer’s transgressions and be forced to provide care for the victims.
Why should the burden be borne by the victim or the taxpayer instead of the doctor and his insurance company (those who profit from treating the patient)? Our court system is about justice; it is about fairness; it is about your rights. The best solution to medical malpractice is to reduce instances of it; this will reduce medical costs and improve the quality of patient care.
It is time to say: “Hands off our American justice system.”