It’s an unfortunate thing to be caught up in a situation whereby you or someone you love has been harmed as a result of medical error. But to play devil’s advocate the majority of doctors don’t generally set out to harm their patients but want to actually help make people better – which is not a bad thing.
We say “majority”, because there are those that use the medical profession to intentionally harm others under the disguise of helping. Such examples would be Dr. Harold Shipman, a doctor, jailed for killing many of his patients; or psychiatry – an industry that is rife with criminal psychiatrists.
With that being said, medical malpractice does occur, whether intentionally or not, causing one to want to take action. And you will need to prove medical malpractice.
3 Famous Cases of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases become famous, either because of the persons involved, or because of the unusual circumstances of the case. Here are some of the most notable malpractice cases that have happened in the past.
Michael Jackson's Malpractice Case
On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson’s sudden death seemingly occurred from out of nowhere. After an extensive autopsy investigation and toxicological, it was found that Jackson died due to a number of drugs in his system, including narcotic pain relievers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants.
Dr. Conrad Murray – Michael Jackson’s personal physician - was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter of the death of Jackson, but was not pursued for civil medical malpractice damages.
A jury found Dr. Murray guilty of his crimes, and he received four years in prison, the maximum allowable sentence for involuntary manslaughter. His medical licenses in Texas and California were revoked, and he was ordered to pay $100 million in damages to the Jackson family.
Joan Rivers' Malpractice Case
In 2014, comedian Joan Rivers went to Yorkville Endoscopy complaining of a sore throat. Rivers, having a history of acid reflux disease, agreed to undergo a laryngoscopy and an endoscopy to examine her vocal cords and her upper digestive system. Following was a series of medical errors leading to the swelling of Rivers’ vocal cords causing them to close and being unable to breathe. The doctors failed to notice her vital signs were rapidly deteriorating for at least 15 minutes before she went into cardiac arrest due to lack of oxygen. She died seven days later after being taken off life support.
Rivers’ daughter, Melissa, filed a malpractice suit in 2015 against Yorkville Endoscopy and any other doctors that were involved in the incident. A settlement was reached a year later, with the doctors accepting full responsibility for Rivers’ death.
Dr. Lawrence Cohen, the medical director of the clinic, stepped down from his position, and Yorkville Endoscopy was found to have numerous violations and irregularities during the investigation.
Elvis Presley's Malpractice Case
Presley died suddenly at age 42 on August 16, 1977, citing heart disease as the cause of death. However, it was later discovered that traces of 14 prescription drugs and depressants were in Presley’s system at the time – which may have contributed to his death. The toxicology report showed numerous psychotropic drugs, including diazepam (Valium) and barbiturates/sedative-hypnotics.
As a result, Presley’s personal physician Dr. George Nichopoulos was charged with prescribing drugs to Presley in an indiscriminate and negligent manner, but a jury found him innocent of the charges.
Nichopoulos would come under scrutiny for the following decade, with accusations of over-prescribing drugs continued through his career. Finally, in 1995, his medical license was revoked when the Board of Medical Examiners found him guilty of gross malpractice and misconduct involving 13 different patients.
What You Need To Prove Medical Malpractice
Although these cases above are quite notable, all instances of medical malpractice are serious and should be fully investigated by an attorney and medical malpractice investigator. Read more about proving medical malpractice.