If you believe all they hype by "tort-reform" zealots, every injured victim is a 'money-hungry, selfish and health-care destroying monster."

Contrary to all the hype, practically every single injured medical malpractice victim who walks in my door is just the opposite. Here's what I mean:

The people who come to me never started off their medical treatment by looking for a lawsuit. Instead, they went to a doctor or hospital to get better; to get treatment they needed; or to get checked to make sure they did not have any dangerous medical condition. They did not go to the doctor's office hoping the doctor would do something wrong, and cause them serious permanent harm. They didn't go to the doctor's office hoping the doctor would screw up and they would 'rake in the cash'! Nobody is that foolish. In fact, almost every person who comes to me for advice is almost apologetic that they're coming in searching for answers. Many potential clients tell me "We're not looking for money...we just want justice." "We want to make sure this never happens again..."

It is days, weeks and months later do these potential clients wonder how they will survive financially as a result of their diminished earning capacity and their lost time from work. Who will pay for their health insurance premiums if they cannot work? Who will buy the groceries, pay the mortgage, the medical bills? How will they pay for their children's school tuition and camp if they cannot return to work? Those thoughts usually come after the healing process, assuming there is one.

There are many "reformists" who argue that there should be an artificial and arbitrary limit to an injured victims' pain and suffering compensation. Does that mean that even when an injured victim has unrelenting pain that never goes away and limits their daily activities, that the most compensation they can receive is an arbitrary number created by someone who has never had that type of pain? Is that fair?

Does a patient seeking a doctor's help truly seek to destroy the health-care system and how insurance companies reimburse doctors? The patient just wants to get better. They want treatment that will let them continue on with their lives unobstructed and free from limitation. Does a patient want a doctor to commit malpractice so his or her life can be destroyed and ruin his job and his family life just to bring a lawsuit? Such thinking is incomprehensible.

On the other hand, I am sure there are many good physicians who wake up each morning and say to themselves "I'm going to do the best I can today." I don't expect there are any physicians who wake up and say "Let's see how many patients I can screw up today so they can sue me for medical malpractice."

However, malpractice occurs when a physician is careless and departs from good and accepted medical care in the State of New York; when there is a lack of communication; where someone drops the ball and misinterprets a radiology report or a pathology report leading to incorrect or improper treatment. A failure to diagnose is always significant, especially if the failure leads to the patient needing additional treatment that otherwise he would not have needed if the condition had been timely and properly diagnosed.

Surgery and anesthesia errors are always signficiant. Many of those mistakes lead to the patient needing additional corrective surgery, or possibly lead to an untimely and wrongful death. Having practiced personal injury law and medical malpractice law for almost twenty years now in the greater New York metropolitan area, I recognize that medical mistakes and errors happens with doctors that are board certified as well as doctors that are not board certified. There are excellent doctors who are well qualified, yet in some cases, those doctors may be careless and that carelessness may have caused significant harm to the patient.

Getting back to the original premise of this article: Are injured medical malpractice victims 'money-grubbing, selfish, health-care destroying' people? Or are they just stuck in the unfortunate position of having been the recipient of improper medical care that has now turned their life upside-down? You decide.

I hope that all of your medical care goes well and you do not need the services of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer practicing law here in the State of New York.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer