In September 2019, a Pennsylvania doctor made headlines in Meadville, PA, when he allegedly prescribed medicine to his patients and practiced medicine without a license. Dr. Luis Gomez faced “three ungraded felony counts of prescribing controlled substances while his physician’s license has been suspended; one ungraded felony count of delivery of prescriptions while his physician’s license has been suspended; and a third-degree misdemeanor count of practicing medicine without a license.”
How did this happen? Gomez’s license was suspended in September 2018 for failing to comply with a 2017 Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine order, which was related to his medical malpractice insurance and license lapsing in 2017. Gomez did not pay the required fine once his license was reinstated, so his license was then suspended from September 2018 to January 2019. Gomez admitted to allowing his license to lapse, yet still practicing medicine.
Medical malpractice is serious – if found guilty, Gomez could face three years in jail, and up to $65,000 in fines for practicing for just five months without a license. His hearing will be this October.
So What Is Medical Malpractice?
Doctors must have a license in order to practice, and it is important for them to have malpractice insurance in the awful event that something goes wrong. Medical malpractice is the improper or negligent treatment of a patient by a medical professional, that results in harm or loss to the patient. We hear horror stories about surgeries gone wrong and instruments left in a patient, or the doctor operating on the wrong leg in surgery. These kinds of incidents are considered malpractice.
Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania
Each state has different requirements for medical malpractice. In Pennsylvania, there are a few key factors. First, the statute of limitations determines if a patient can even bring a case in the first place. Pennsylvania law allows a period of two years after discovery of an injury to file a claim, with some exemptions if it would not have been possible for the plaintiff to discover the harm in that time period.
Second, expert testimony must be used by the plaintiff. This means that a medical professional in the same field as the defendant must demonstrate that the defendant deviated from the normal standard of care under Pennsylvania malpractice law. The plaintiff must prove, using this testimony, that the deviation caused the harm done to the plaintiff.
The ultimate result of a malpractice suit is damages; this is a monetary repayment to compensate for your injury. You may receive compensatory damages, which seek to pay you back for lost wages or medical bills, non economic damages, to compensate you for pain and suffering, or punitive damages, which punish the defendant and serve as a warning to other healthcare professionals.
Let Us Help You Today
Because medical malpractice laws are so involved, it is best to work with an attorney to determine how to proceed with your case. If you need help to see if you fall within the statutes of limitations, to contact an expert witness, or just to figure out if you have a claim, contact the Bucks County personal injury attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand. We can help you figure out how to move forward.