After a surgeon realized he operated on the wrong leg of the patient he immediately reported the error to the hospital and offered a thorough apology to the patient. Should he be punished for this medical error?
This was the question asked by The New York Times to its readers in the Sunday Dialogue. Most readers believe he should.
At Gair Gair Conason Steigman Mackauf Bloom and Rubinowitz although we believe that a doctor in such an obvious case of negligence should apologize he should also be held responsible for his glaring error and that the patient should be compensated for the pain and suffering, otherwise unnecessary further medical treatment and loss of income caused by the doctor’s inexcusable negligence. The author states”People in the medical field are well intentioned and feel great distress when they harm patients.” That may be so but it does not compensate the patient for the error. What often happens in these cases is that the doctor’s insurance company puts the patient thru unnecessary litigation rather than settling an obvious case of negligence for fair and adequate compensation.
What is your opinion?