Doctors and other medical professionals are supposed to help patients get better. But what happens when a doctor’s mistake actually worsens the patient’s condition? Shouldn’t medical professionals be held responsible for negligent mistakes?

Just recently, two physicians were found negligent in a medical malpractice lawsuit brought against them. Two procedures, a colonoscopy and a follow-up corrective surgery, left a Pennsylvania man with a perforated colon. A Philadelphia jury awarded the man a multi-million dollar award for his injuries and pain and suffering.

Both doctors were found negligent by the jury. The first doctor, the jury concluded, was partially at fault for the damages, having initially perforated the patient’s colon during the colonoscopy. The second doctor was held responsible for the other portion of the damages because he made the injuries worse by failing to properly repair the initial damage during the surgery.

The lawsuit contended that the patient’s colon was over inflated beyond a reasonable standard of medical care during the colonoscopy. After the procedure, there were additional complications that caused the patient to seek further treatment. An emergency room visit at first did not discover the perforation but later monitoring revealed the perforation. The man had to undergo emergency surgery.

Patients who place their lives and health in the hands of medical practitioners can suffer serious injuries or even death if doctors do not live up to a reasonable standard of medical care. A few moments of negligence can result in permanent damage to a person’s body, making it difficult for him or her to again lead a normal life without pain, discomfort, and inconvenience, as well as requiring the expense of ongoing medical care.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Colonoscopy lawsuit results in $2 million award,” Gina Passarella, The Legal Intelligencer, Oct. 24, 2011