Med Mal Matters: Having an Advocate in Health Care

Med Mal Matters: Having an Advocate in Health Care

Scartelli Olszewski P.C.

By Melissa Scartelli, Esq. If you’re like me, you’ve gone to the doctor with your elderly parent, and at the end of the ordeal, you ask yourself what other older people do if they don’t have anyone to accompany them to such visits. The fact is everyone should have an advocate when they go to a doctor or go for a test. And, God forbid, if you have an ongoing health issue, it is imperative to bring along someone who can be objective and ask the questions not only that the patient or their loved one is afraid to ask about their condition, but also the questions that the patient is too nice to ask, the ones that may “ruffle feathers.” That includes questions such as “Is this the best place to be treated for this condition?”That advice goes for everyone, regardless of age. But back to the elderly for a moment. Older people are at the mercy of virtually everyone…doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, you name it. These are the people who were rolling cigarettes on the corner 70 years ago. They worked in factories, fought for our country and would give the proverbial shirt off their back to help someone. Their heroes were not doctors, lawyers, or stockbrokers, but rather ordinary people who worked hard and made great sacrifices for their families. I remember a story my father told many times when we were young about a neighbor who lived up the street when he was a child. My father would pass the neighbor’s house on his walk to elementary school. The man was a mason, and one day, he was cutting stone for the front of his house. As my father walked to school that morning, the man was cutting stone with his right hand; when my father walked passed his house again at the end of the day on his return from school, the man was still hard at work but now cutting stone with his left hand. My father admired that man. Many lawyers will not take a medical malpractice case on behalf of an elderly patient/client. In reality, the law does not favor the elderly when it comes to recovering damages in a civil lawsuit. Those are smart lawyers; their decision makes sound business sense. When have you heard about an elderly person receiving a large medical malpractice verdict? Recently, a lawyer called my office to refer a case to me on behalf of an 80-plus-year-old individual. The message left with my paralegal was “I know Melissa has a soft place in her heart for these elderly people, so I thought she may want to take this case.” I took the case. The elderly person needed an advocate. I recently went to a doctor’s appointment with my elderly client. I later requested the doctor’s office note. It said the patient presented to the office with her “advocate.” He got that right! If you or a loved one needs an advocate in the courtroom, call the law firm of Scartelli Olszewski. We represent people of all ages in cases involving medical malpractice, elder abuse, nursing home negligence, and much more.