Malpractice insurance is a must for New Jersey doctors who are actively seeing and treating patients, and yet there are still those in the health profession who operate without it. Now, the state's Supreme Court has upheld a law that injured patients cannot actually sue a negligent doctor for not being covered by any type of malpractice insurance. This leaves some victims injured by an infection or a surgery gone wrong without many options.
Most people can probably still recall when an anesthesiologist made national headlines, and who was last discussed on this blog on June 30, 2014 ("Anesthesiologist settles lawsuit based upon surgery gone wrong"). After losing his privilege to practice in England, the anesthesiologist set up shop in New Jersey. He then proceeded to perform a variety of spinal surgeries, many of which left patients severely and permanently injured.
One such case included a man who was awarded $750,000 for the damages caused by the anesthesiologist. He later sought additional compensation for the anesthesiologist's lack of malpractice insurance. His claim was that he was unable to give his informed consent for all of the risks, which he says should include a lack of malpractice insurance. While the New Jersey Supreme Court ultimately ruled that a lack medical malpractice insurance did not necessarily fall into a known risk, at least one of the justices disagreed, saying that he did not believe anyone would willingly consent to a procedure or surgery for which the attending physician was not adequately covered.
This ruling has stirred some dissent in the state with many activists calling for medical malpractice reform. Many believe that it is the doctor's responsibility to disclose what he or she lacks coverage for, and not the patient's burden to carry after a surgery gone wrong. Acquiring an infection or suffering an injury related to a procedure is often a life-altering event, which makes it difficult for some to understand why a lack of medical malpractice insurance is seemingly acceptable. Still, most victims are still best compensated through the litigation of a medical malpractice suit to completion.
Source: northjersey.com, "The Record: Safe Medicine", Oct. 1, 2015