Can I Sue A Community Health Center For Medical Malpractice?
A Georgia woman died at the age of 38 from cancer. Two years earlier, she had gone to a community health center where the doctors discovered abnormal cells. They never told her about the cells. The cancer spread until it became terminal.
Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the clinic, but as part of a community-run program, the defendant is actually the government. That means that the claim is filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Unlike sovereign immunity in most states, the federal government does not cap damages on tort claims. That means that plaintiffs can sue and recover any amount of money, but the process of filing a lawsuit can be more difficult. Further, the doctors and medical personnel that operate these facilities aren’t sued directly under the law. That means regardless of how egregious their negligence was, they don’t have to pay a dime, and they don’t even have to carry medical malpractice insurance. As a result, community health centers cost American taxpayers nearly half a billion dollars over the four-year period of 2018 to 2021.
Understanding the situation
Community Health Centers must be organized as non-profits. However, they accept money from patients usually through federally-funded programs like Medicaid. They get government subsidies for complying with the program’s benchmarks, and in the event they injure a patient, their judgments are paid for by the taxpayers. If the federal government decides to defend the clinic, the cost is incurred by taxpayers as well.
In order to qualify for immunity, they must meet minimum standards and if a lawsuit is filed, a review of their standards is conducted by the federal government. In most cases, the clinic and the federal government present a unified defense, denying the allegations made by plaintiffs. In other cases, the plaintiff would be entitled to a jury trial, but federal rules prevent this. In many cases, the award figures are substantially less than a lawyer would expect to recover from a jury.
86% of community health centers enjoy qualified immunity as government actors. However, much like the VA, doctors are not required to carry medical malpractice insurance and never face individual liability related to the injuries they cause. This creates a situation where no one is ever responsible for a patient’s injury and the doctors don’t face personal consequences related to medical failures.
While this might be enough to prevent anyone from ever going to a clinic, these clinics are established for the sole purpose of providing medical care to the urban and rural poor. Most of those who go to these clinics don’t have another option.
Talk to an Atlanta, GA Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
The Moses Law Firm represents the interests of injured plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits against negligent doctors. Call our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.