When dealing with a medical malpractice claim, it's likely that the physician or hospital named in the suit wants to resolve the issue quickly and mitigate the repercussions. When looking to resolve claims for hospital or doctor errors, medical providers often include a confidentiality agreement in the settlement, which forces injured patients and their family to stay quiet about the incident. After losing her 6-year-old son due to a misdiagnosis, one North Carolina woman is looking to help others understand their rights after accepting a settlement.
After bringing her son to the doctor's office, the woman was told that the child had croup, a relatively common respiratory ailment. Although the North Carolina mother fully expected her boy to recover, he didn't. The 6 year old eventually succumbed to "oxygen deprivation" because his doctors failed to make the right diagnosis.
The hospital responded quickly in order to protect their reputation. When offered a settlement that included a clause that would prevent her from disclosing the details of the offer, the woman refused. She simply could not stay quiet about the critical mistakes the physicians made.
The woman hopes that her decision to speak up will provide perspective on the true nature of out-of-court settlements in North Carolina. Many people may not fully understand what they're agreeing to when they move forward with a settlement versus a lawsuit in court. This is why some state legislators would like to limit the power that confidentiality agreements have in malpractice and personal injury settlements.
Regardless of whether or not changes are made in the legislature, this story shows how important it is to be fully advised of your rights when dealing a doctor's error. Rather than hastily agreeing to a settlement, it may be most beneficial to consult with an attorney to determine the best course of action to help you and your family move forward after a medical accident.
Source: ABC 11 News, "Should NC limit secret court settlements?" Steve Daniels, Feb. 21, 2013