Unit 8Section 5 Exercise18 Medical Error
The following passage is excerpted from an award-winning essay in a collection, Rage and Reconciliation: Inspiring a Health-Care Revolution, published by the literary journal Creative Non-Fiction. You can access the literary journal's website and information about Robson's essay and others in this voume.
From "Notes from a Difficult Case", by Ruthann Robson, Creative Nonfiction no. 21
If I decided to sue, my damages would be measured by a damages award; my injuries would be compensated with monetary relief.
I could not ask for an injunction. I could not request that the doctors go back to medical school ore receive firther training in cancer or compassion. Or that they be administered adriamycin or ifosfamide.
I would never receive an apology. And nothing I could prove would ever mean that the famous cancer center would be ordered to cease and desist its boastful advertisements.
One of the principles of medical malpractice is that the monetary awards will act as deterrents. The theory is that litigation which results in compensation ensures that medical professionals will find it more economically advantageous to avoid future careless injuries to patients than to keep paying damage awards.
If I believed this—if I believed there were enough money in the world to accomplish this—I would sue in an irregular heartbeat.
1. According to this brief passage, what purpose does the monetary compensation in a malpractice suit serve? What does the author imply is the overarching function of a malpractice suit?
2. The author emphatically disputes the notion that malpractice suits deter future errors. Do you agree or disagree, and on what basis? What do you think she might argue is the best way of preventing errors?