Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Transplants

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A feature article in Trial magazine’s May 2012 issue focusing on medical malpractice is “TAINTED Transplants”. Its subtitle is: “Patients may wait for years to be matched with a donor organ, but sometimes they contract diseases and infections from the organs that were intended to save their lives”. Id. at 28-29.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has made major changes to its 1994 Public Health Service guidelines, and its Office of Blood, Organ and other Tissue Safety has drafted 2011 guidelines. However, the Trial article observes that healthcare industry “emphasis has always been on monitoring transplant availability rather than unintentional disease transmission [and] precautions are not fail-safe,” thus raising the specter of medical malpracticeId. at 31.

“The Uniform Organ Gift Act varies from state to state.” Id. at 34. “Under these acts, providers may be immune in performing transplantation surgeries with signed documentation, but they may not be shielded for poor decision-making, such as transplanting an HIV-infected liver,” id.; so medical malpractice lawsuits still may “help the victims seek financial compensation for medical bills, permanent disabilities, decreased quality of life, and pain and suffering – as well as help promote safer health care”. Id. at 30.