Old People and Medical Malpractice

Old People and Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is when injury or death is caused by the negligence of a healthcare provider. In order to win a medical malpractice lawsuit you have to prove a few different things. One is that the doctor or hospitals actions (or inactions) were the cause of the injury or death. This can be difficult when an elderly person dies in a hospital. It’s hard because old age is often a huge factor. You also have to prove damages – which is basically a dollar amount you put on the injury or death. When someone is at the end of their life, the remainder of what they would have had isn’t valued very high, legally speaking.

If there is blatant malpractice then it might be a case worth pursuing. We’re talking about something obvious like performing the wrong surgery on a patient. If it’s not blatant, then it’s already going to be expensive to pursue and tough to prove. Add on top of that the fact that damages are low and most attorneys would say it’s not worth it, unfortunately.

It’s just too easy for the defense to win. They’ll argue that the person was sick to begin with, even if they had a good quality of life. My grandma died at 97, and for 95 years she was the picture of health. She joked that she only went to the hospital twice and that was to deliver a baby. When I don’t look at it emotionally, I can see that even though she was dancing at 94, the fact that a doctor screwed up when she was 95 wasn’t the real reason she went downhill fast. It was more her age and the susceptibility of older people. And sadly, even if it wasn’t, we could never prove otherwise.

Attorneys shy away from most cases of medical malpractice where the result was the death of an elderly person. These cases can easily cost $100,000, and the attorney or law firm pays that. If they win, they get that back and then some. If they lose, well, it’s a big loss. So they’re picking about what cases to take. It sounds harsh, but it’s a business decision. 

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