Medical Malpractice

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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Q: What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is any action for personal injury against a healthcare provider based on professional negligence. This term is most often used to apply to a lawsuit by a patient against his or her physician as a result of getting “bad care.”

Q: What is a “Healthcare Provider?”

Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 364, “healthcare provider” means “any person licensed or certified pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code, or licensed pursuant to the Osteopathic Initiative Act, or the Chiropractic Initiative Act, or licensed pursuant to Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 1440) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code; and any clinic, health dispensary, or health facility, licensed pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 1200) of the Health and Safety Code.” Furthermore, the term "health care provider" also includes “the legal representatives of a health care provider.” The quotes are right from the California law, so the definition needs some translation. The term “healthcare provider” may be applied to your physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, chiropractors, and anyone else who holds a license to practice healthcare.

Q: So, if a person or a facility has a license to treat other people, that person or facility is a healthcare provider?

Exactly. Furthermore, the license held is meant to control the quality of the healthcare provided by the person with the license. A licensed provider must practice his or her profession with no less than the degree of learning and skill ordinarily possessed by other practitioners in the same or similar locality and under the same circumstances. This level of skill is often called the “standard of care.” Hence, a licensed healthcare provider must practice within the standard of care when he or she provides “care.”

Q: How do I check my healthcare provider’s license status?

The internet offers a quick way to check the status of doctors. To check the status of a California doctor, visit http://www.medbd.ca.gov/ which is the site for the Medical Board of California. For other states, start by visiting the site of your state medical board or state department of consumer affairs.

Q: How do I know if my healthcare provider is providing the standard of care?

The first clue is when something goes wrong with your medical condition, meaning you do not get better, or in some cases get worse. When you seek treatment for your medical illness, you expect to get better. When you do not get better or get worse your expectations are not met.

Q: So, if I seek medical treatment from a healthcare provider, and I do not get better, I can sue for medical malpractice?

Absolutely not! Such an idea would imply that patients should always get better, and common sense tells us that is not true. I simply stated that the “first clue” to a malpractice case is when a patient does not get better. The next step in evaluating a potential medical malpractice case is to determine why a patient did not get better or why the patient got worse.

Q: How can I find out why I did not get better?

If you have a good relationship with your doctor or other healthcare provider, just ask. If you feel uncomfortable asking such a question, that may be a sign that you and your provider are not a great fit. I tell my patients that they should feel comfortable with their doctor, meaning that they feel free to ask questions: questions about my diagnosis, questions about tests I order or do not order, questions about symptoms they think are unrelated to their diagnosis, and even questions about alternative treatments they have read about on the internet. If you are not comfortable asking your doctor, doubt your doctor will be truthful, or are otherwise not able to ask, then you can get a second opinion from another doctor. In some cases, your insurance plan will cover the expense of second opinions. You’re your insurance carrier to learn more. If the second opinion suggests that your initial care was below the standard of care or if you are not able to get a reliable second opinion, you can consult a medical malpractice attorney. I generally offer a brief free initial consultation to go over the facts surrounding the care received by a potential client, and then I provide an opinion as to what next steps, if any, should be taken.

Q: What types of information would I need to have when I call for an initial consultation?

One of the most important things you need to know is the date on which you knew or should have known that you had a medical problem or suffered harm from medical care that you received.

Q: How do I contact Attorney and Physician Paul J. Molinaro?

If you live in California and would like further information about your situation, please call his office. He offer a no obligation telephone consultation for most inquires. Readers in other states should consult a local attorney or, if a recommendation is needed for a local attorney, contact their state or county bar association.

1-888-MD-JD-LAW
(When You Need a Lawyer, Call a Doctor)

CALIFORNIA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ATTORNEY Answers by Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. to Some Common Questions

Q: I’ve read your initial FAQ page, but I want to know more. Do you have anything else to add?

I sure do.

Q: Well, let’s have it!

Okay. I get calls every day from people who feel they have great medical malpractice cases, and few, very very few, do. The vast majority do not. I’ll end up taking, maybe, one out of a hundred. No kidding. It’s really that rare for me to find a solid case and accept it.

Q: What do you mean by “solid?”

Three things are needed to have a solid medical malpractice case: (1) the healthcare provider acting below (breaching) the standard of care; (2) the breach causing physical injury; and (3) significant physical injuries. If all three are not present, I don’t take the case.

Q: What do you mean by “significant physical injuries?”

Life altering injuries. Paralysis, loss of a limb, permanent kidney damage resulting in lifetime dialysis, brain injury requiring lifetime assistance with simple tasks like eating, blindness, etc. In California we have “MICRA” which I discuss at length in other articles. Google it if you don’t already know what it is. MICRA significantly, and unfairly, limits the compensation available to a victim of medical malpractice. Thus, there are no good “small” cases in medical malpractice.

Q: What kind of injuries do people think are significant but you do not?

Good question. If a person calls me a few months after the injury but has fully healed, by my definition, it’s not significant. It does not matter that he or she suffered a few extra weeks in the hospital or had to go through a few extra weeks of physical therapy. If he or she has fully recovered, the case will not be valued as high enough to make it worth it. While soft tissue injuries that fully recover might be great for a car crash case, medical malpractice is completely different. Some attorneys make a living out of small car crash cases. There are no such attorneys, at least none that I know, who do the same with California medical malpractice cases. The California distinction is important, because the exact same case in another state could be worth many times more. Again, I refer you to MICRA, if you don’t know why.

Q: What kind of people should not call you?

Well, that is right to the point. But, I do have a serious answer. People who were hurt by their doctor’s attitude. If your doctor was rude, callous, had bad body odor, or otherwise personally offended you, don’t call me. Bad bedside manner is not worthy of a lawsuit. If you don’t like your doctor’s attitude, get a new doctor, write to the medical director or hospital director, but don’t call me.

Q: Any tips for how to behave when I present my potential case to you?

Yes. Don’t start off by telling me you have a great case and that I should be honored that you are calling me. I have yet to get a call from someone who really has a great case that started with such a statement. Now, that I think about this, I shouldn’t tell you that, because it’s a great way to quickly know when a caller is not going be offered legal services by my firm. You should start by telling me your name and then letting me ask some questions. If you have a great case, it goes without saying that I will be honored to be selected as your attorney and will represent you to the best of my abilities.

Attorney and physician Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D. offers free consultations to to people who were injured in California by a healthcare professional. If you are such a person, call Dr. Molinaro to learn if you are entitled to compensation.

WHEN YOU NEED A LAWYER,

CALL THE DOCTOR!

Call Paul J. Molinaro, M.D, J.D.

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compensate victims of medical malpractice

The legislature and the civil court system have designed medical malpractice cases to compensate victims of medical malpractice with money, for money is really the only thing that can be provided. A car can be repaired to a “good as new” condition or replaced, but a physical injury can never be undone.

The system is not designed to punish the defendant doctor or to take his or her license away. The system will not require the defendant doctor to admit the error or apologize. The system will compensate the successful plaintiff with money. While this may not be satisfying to the victim, this outcome must be understood by anyone contemplating engaging in a medical malpractice suit.

If you suspect you have been the victim of medical malpractice, call me.

"Potential clients begin the process of representation with me by contacting my law firm. If I sense potential medical negligence, I review the medical records myself. This process is also two-step, but one that is quite easy – requiring a potential client to call me to get started."

- Paul J. Molinaro, M.D., J.D.

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Paul J. Molinaro, M.D. J.D.

Paul J. Molinaro, M.D. J.D. is a medical malpractice attorney who also brings to the table a wealth of medical knowledge and experience. As a licensed physician, he is able to offer advice from two different perspectives. This gives his clients the unique advantage of being able to have their case presented from a medical point of view.

Serving all of California, Molinaro and the attorneys and staff of Fransen & Molinaro take each case very seriously. They understand the importance of good health and what it means when someone is injured and cannot have the same quality of life they enjoyed prior to the incident in question. Their goal is to build medical malpractice cases that not only compensate their clients but also provide the peace of mind that helped to prevent others from experiencing the same issues.