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Medical Malpractice Personal Injury Claims Arise from Doctor Selfies

March 14, 2017

You should be able to trust your doctor to be professional and attentive to their work when you are in the vulnerable position of a patient. Whether you’re getting a procedure, having a child, or being treated for an illness, your physician should give you the benefit of their full attention and respect your right to privacy in the process. If your doctor is taking a selfie while engaged in providing treatment, are they really focused on your healthcare needs? If something goes wrong, will be they be attentive enough to respond to the change in your needs, or will they be distracted by posting an inappropriate photo on social media, maybe a photo of themselves standing beside an unconscious patient, about to perform a specialized procedure?

Are Doctors Really Posting Selfies in the Midst of Their Work?

The idea of a doctor posting a selfie while working with a patient seems entirely ludicrous. Why would a professional and educated physician be wasting their time and energy on such pointless and trivial activities when your life could be at stake? Yet, this is something that really happens, and it has led to medical malpractice personal injury claims.

One example of this situation occurred in Malaysia, with an OB/GYN posting a selfie next to a patient who was fully exposed in the photo. The photo went viral on social media, becoming famous for its unethical and unprofessional nature, but it wasn’t the first of its kind. It wasn’t even the first of its kind in the field of obstetrics and gynecology.

This being one of the most intimate areas of a woman’s healthcare needs highlights the lack of respect for the patient in these cases. Another medical professional from Venezuela, a student OB, posted several of these kinds of selfies with disrespectful captions, using foul language and a total disregard of the seriousness of the medical care that he was supposed to be providing. He eventually apologized for the photos, but argued that there were not any overly revealing photos of the women involved, glossing over the concept of patient consent.

How Doctor Selfies Can Lead to Medical Malpractice Claims

When a healthcare provider takes a selfie like this, when they should be focused on the care and needs of their patient, they give the patient and their loved ones grounds for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Even if nobody is harmed in the process, simply posting a photo of patients or their family members, without their consent, is illegal and unethical.

In the worst of cases, such behavior can even prove fatal for the patient, as may have been the case in the death of Joan Rivers in 2014. In this case, it was a an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist), Dr. Gwen Korovin, who was performing a routine endoscopy and tissue biopsy. She took photos with Rivers, while she was unconscious, reportedly thinking that Rivers would be amused by the photos. Dr. Korovin’s famous patient had a heart attack shortly after the photos were taken. This prompted questions around the world concerning whether or not the doctor was really paying attention to her patient’s needs, or if she was too busy violating the patient’s privacy to provide adequate medical care. Rivers went into a coma and passed away the following week, and her daughter filed a medical malpractice claim. While the details were debated and professionals argued both sides of the case, with arguments concerning whether the photo was a selfie or taken by another doctor, whether or not that made a difference, and whether the complication would have arisen either way, the case was finally settled in 2016.

Should You Pursue a Personal Injury Claim for Medical Malpractice?

While medical malpractice claims that involve doctor selfies are easier to prove and harder to argue against, it is typically very challenging to win a medical malpractice case. This is because the doctors and hospitals that you may be going up against have legal protections and plenty of legal representation. There are some situations where it is worthwhile to pursue a claim, though you should evaluate your case carefully and seek legal advice before you proceed.

To determine whether you should file a claim for malpractice, you have to determine not only whether or not the case is solid, but also whether or not it is even worth the time and expense to pursue, whether the outcome will justify the effort and the cost. A good place to start in this evaluation of your potential claim is to contact the attorneys at the Connell Law Firm to get a free consultation and case review. We’ll discuss the merits of your claim based on the definition of medical malpractice and the various likely and potential outcomes of your case.

The definition of medical malpractice is any behavior, action, or lack thereof which is unreasonable and would not have occurred with a reasonably prudent and cautious physician or facility, given the same situation and available options. If your physician did their best to provide care and their actions would not be deemed unreasonably careless by anyone else in their profession, then you probably don’t have a case. Even if the physician’s actions did cause harm or if another action would have prevented harm, this does not mean that you have a case.

However, if the action or lack of action was unreasonable by the standards of any other healthcare provider in the same position and situation, then you may have a strong case. For instance, if the idea of a physician taking a selfie while you are in their care seems ridiculous and unreasonable, you are right, and they will find it difficult to argue this in their defense.

Even so, it may not be worth it to pursue that case. It all depends on what the outcome is likely to be in terms of the compensation that you can recover. Forms of compensation available in a successful medical malpractice claim include medical expenses, lost wages and future earning potential, pain and suffering, and psychological trauma. In some cases, in which the behavior was excessively negligent, intentional, or criminal in nature, you can seek punitive damages, too. You’ll want to consider what the total value of these damages might be, and whether the potential compensation is worth going through the process of filing a claim.

You also have to keep in mind that medical malpractice claims are not like other personal injury claims. South Carolina law requires a mediation process before  you file your claim in court. The goal of this is to avoid the expense of litigation by settling the case without taking it to court.

When you seek a free consultation with a determined Columbia, SC personal injury lawyer at the Connell Law Firm, we’ll help you to weigh the pros and cons of pursuing your claim and help you get started if your case is solid and worthwhile.