Medical malpractice trials in Ohio are supposed to be a search for the truth. However, our nefarious State government, long-corrupted by powerful insurance and medical lobbies, routinely makes laws meant to keep the truth out of Ohio courtrooms. Following are 9 “secrets” that jurors are not supposed to know when hearing medical negligence cases.
Secret #1. Jurors always want to know whether the defendant doctor is a good doctor or a bad doctor. However, evidence of other lawsuits brought against a doctor is not admissible. Likewise, a patient cannot obtain records of other patients treated by their physician even if all patient identification information is redacted.
Secret #2. Jurors often feel that if a hospital has done wrong, then they will be punished by State regulators. In fact, Ohio does not regulate hospitals at all. So, the only oversight is done internally by secret committees. While the Ohio State Medical Board is supposed to regulate doctors, I can tell you from personal experience that their rules are lax, their investigators are incompetent, and their decisions protect physicians. In 23 years, I have only referred 3 matters to the OSMB due to the egregious nature of the infractions. Only two of the matters have been ruled on, both in favor of the physicians (naturally). It took nearly 10 years for one of those decisions to be made.
Secret #3. Surely, when a hospital find wrongdoing by a doctor that is admissible evidence, right? Wrong. Ohio law covers up internal investigations by hospitals. The so-called “peer review” privilege allows hospitals to investigate wrongdoing by staff physicians, but patients and their lawyers are not entitled to learn the results of an investigation or get a copy of the incident report. This rule was meant to allow hospitals to investigate errors without the threat of liability hindering their investigation. Instead, hospitals use the law as a cloak of secrecy to hide errors.
There is no other industry that is so unregulated and secretive. Despite regulation and transparency, other industries have prospered. For example, the FAA thoroughly investigates airplane crashes and the industry is required to keep records and black boxes to clearly document the causes of plane crashes. Apparently, doctors are so devious that they will not correct ongoing problems unless the threat of liability is removed.
Secret #4. With rare exception, doctors in Ohio have liability insurance for medical malpractice claims. Hospital staff regulations routinely require proof of insurance. However, you would never know it. Ohio courts require that proof of insurance be kept secret in medical malpractice litigation.