How Does Medical Malpractice Work In Other Countries?

You live in the United States. That means you know lawsuits are common. Frivolous lawsuits are even more common. But our lives are guided by the need for justice. That means we hold people accountable for their actions. Doctors and surgeons can’t afford to make mistakes because mistakes could lead to costly medical malpractice lawsuits.

Head of Global Medical Staffing’s international placement team, Diane Wright, said, “Malpractice in other countries looks very different from the U.S. My team and I can count on one hand the number of times doctors have been involved in malpractice on an international locum tenens assignment with us. When malpractice happens overseas, it’s not as frequent. Maybe a doctor made a mistake during a C section or other procedure and they may face a suit, but the suit will look different than it does in the U.S.”

One of the reasons these cases look so different abroad is because judges are far more likely to decide whether or not a person is owed money. Here in the U.S., a jury usually has the final say — especially in big cases.

Disability Discrimination Attorney Michael Douglas said, “We see many medical malpractice cases arise from various types of discrimination, whether racial or related to disability. Who receives a particular type of surgery is supposed to be governed by an unbiased process, but that isn’t always the case. Outside factors weigh in. Then those in need feel like their needs aren’t met. These cases are easier in the United States than in other countries, where discrimination laws are less restrictive in part because they aren’t always needed. But there are two sides to that coin.”

In the United Kingdom, pain and suffering damages are capped at a fairly low $400,000. When big mistakes are made by doctors and surgeons in the United States, a case can be worth millions — much of which comes from pain and suffering of the patient.

Legal fees are often paid for by the loser in a case — when that case is overseas. Our own system is so plagued by frivolous cases that legislators consistently find ways to reduce the burden on the system. One way they do this is by forcing the party who brought the suit to pay for their own legal fees. That makes people far less likely to build a case they could very likely lose. (Of course, opponents of this system feel it’s also more likely to deter anyone from building a case — even when completely justified.)

One thing lawyers and doctors both agree on? You should be careful about surgery performed overseas. It’s because lawsuits are so much less common elsewhere in the world that standards are lower. Medical professionals aren’t always seen as culpable when a mistake occurs, and so they can be more likely to make them. Also, unqualified individuals sometimes pretend to be certified in order to make a quick buck or two.

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