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Indiana Medical Malpractice Law: an Overview (part 5)

July 6, 2009 Medical Malpractice

Finally, here are a few caveats based on interviewing many people over the years who believe they have been injured by medical malpractice.

  • One cannot recover money damages as compensation for something that did not happen. In other words, if a health care provider either does or fails to do something that you believe could have led to your death, you cannot recover money for “I could have been killed”. One can only recover compensation for actual harms, not near misses.
  • One also cannot successfully sue a health care provider for having bad “bedside manners” unless of course those bad manners are a breach of the standard of care and can be shown to have caused a harm.
  • Due to the complexities, costs and delays that have been layered onto medical malpractice claims, those claims involving small damages are unlikely ever to be pursued in a court of law.
  • The failure on the part of a health care provider to keep your family members informed of your condition or planned procedures is also not a basis for a cause of action. A frequent complaint is that “the doctors and nurses didn’t tell me what was going on the whole time.” A failure to adequately inform a patient, or if necessary another decision make such as a minor patient’s parent or person exercising a medical power of attorney for a patient, can be the basis of a claim for lack of informed consent. However, the physicians have no duty to keep everyone informed of what is being done to the patient. In fact, they have a duty to not disclose information unless they have express permission from the patient to do so.

An outline of the procedure for bringing a medical malpractice claim can be found online. While this serves as a very nice general outline of the procedural aspects of pursuing such a claim, there is no substitute for obtaining experienced competent counsel in pursuing these time consuming and complex legal matters. The actual number of medical malpractice claims filed in Indiana is quite small and the number of these claims which result in a recovery of money to compensate the patient is much lower still. Indiana saw 32 malpractice cases go to trial in 2007, 12 of which ended in favor of the plaintiffs and in 2006 nine of 26 Indiana malpractice cases ended in favor of the plaintiffs after trial.

The actual numbers of total claims filed, the amounts paid by the defendants and the number and types of medical review panel opinions since the inception of the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act in 1975 are all available online.

This is the final entry in a five-part series of blog articles giving a general overview of Indiana Medical Malpractice Law.

Wilson Kehoe & Winingham has over 30 years of experience dealing in personal injury cases and medical malpractice law and have a physician-attorney and registered nurse on staff. If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice and would like a free consultation concerning your case please contact us at 1-800-525-8028 or e-mail us at

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