Lack of Transparency in Medical Malpractice Payments
Medical malpractice victims suffer devastating injuries that can result in paralysis, loss of mobility, deformity, brain damage, and even death. Unfortunately, the health care industry is ignoring the best interests of these patients. The payment amounts awarded in medical malpractice settlements are being kept from the public. These settlements remain confidential in order to cap medical malpractice payouts, and to keep the malpractice insurance premiums of physicians from rising.
This results in victims not receiving fair compensation, and “high risk” physicians escaping disciplinary actions.
One of the more recent high profile cases involves the wrongful death of Dr. Manish Jain in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2011, a lawsuit was filed against emergency room doctor Joseph Bajo and intensive care internist Elliot Wade. Jain’s attorney described the case as the “largest medical malpractice case in Nevada in terms of economic loss to the heirs” (Las Vegas Review Journal). Once the case was settled, however, the specifics of the payment was not released to the public.
The settlement was vaguely said to be “in the millions.” The only information regarding the payout in official public records shows that Bajo and Wade each paid $500,000 to settle the District Court case. The medical malpractice settlement itself, however, was paid by the hospital — this amount has been withheld from the public.
The settlement also shows no admissions of malpractice by Wade. His insurance company reports that Jain died due to “negligent diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, delayed intubation resulting in death” (Las Vegas Review Journal). Wade previously settled an additional medical malpractice lawsuit in the wrongful death of David Whetstone. According to the Board of Medical Examiners, however, Wade has faced no disciplinary action despite settling two wrongful death cases. Wade’s medical license has been renewed as recently as 2015.
The medical malpractice attorneys of Prochaska, Howell & Prochaska believe that information regarding medical malpractice payments should be available to the public. Transparency in these cases helps future victims find justice, while holding physicians and hospitals more accountable for medical malpractice.