On the other hand, North Carolina's private physicians' association is against the database and the disclosure of so much sensitive medical malpractice information, as it could contain misleading information and not clearly explain the particulars of a case. Opposing doctors also argue that a medical malpractice lawsuit might be misconstrued as a doctor's poor care, negligence, or lack of skills, when more often medical malpractice cases are due to "honest" mistakes or split-second decisions.
The result of the two battling sides is a series of compromises concerning the medical malpractice database, resulting in a website that provides some information to the public, but not in as much detail as some would like.
If you would like to research the medical malpractice history of your doctor or health professional, you will be able to access the following information beginning in fall of 2009:
- A doctor's medical malpractice payouts, starting in October 2007. This differs from the initial wish of the board, that wanted to publish information from the last seven years. This is due to legal secrecy clauses that may still be in effect for past cases.
- Whether the legal action led to the discipline of the doctor. This information is especially interesting, since private discipline usually implies that the doctor did not act accordingly or morally while the absence of discipline often implies "honest" mistakes.
- Only settlements exceeding $25,000 will be listed, at the request of The NC Medical Society, malpractice insurers and associated defense lawyers who complained that listing lesser malpractice cases would be unfair and that 25 other states have the same stipulation. This is also the amount at which a doctor's medical malpractice insurance premiums are negatively affected.
- The names of the patients and their specific claim amounts will not be listed.
- The site will note that malpractice does not necessitate negligence or poor judgment and that some medical specialty fields, such as obstetrics and neurosurgery, draw significantly more lawsuits than others due to the nature of the work in comparison to family practitioners.
If you believe your health was compromised as a result of medical error or negligence, you should gather as much information as possible. Not only should you retain copies of medical records and keep a journal regarding your condition and contacts with medical staff and/or insurance companies, but you can educate yourself about malpractice proceedings in North Carolina. Board certified trial attorney Brent Adams published a book, The Truth About Medical Malpractice Claims. The book is available at no cost to injured victims and can be requested via the form on the right side. Our North Carolina medical malpractice attorneys also offer free case evaluations, an opportunity for accident victims to ask the questions that are important to them, learn about state and federal laws that affect these unique cases, and understand the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. Call 877-BRENT-ADAMS or complete the form to schedule a spot on our calendar.