Do you know the difference between an MD and DO when it comes to physicians?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2022 | Medical Malpractice

Many people are unaware of the difference between a doctor who has an “M.D.” degree vs a “D.O.”  Just because they have the phrase “Dr.” in front of their name, does not mean they have obtained the best education and training before performing surgery on you. In fact, quite literally not all doctors are the same!

Medical Schools are difficult to get into.   A physician with an “M.D.” degree has been accepted into a medical degree program.  These are the traditional and more highly regarded education programs. However, a physician that has “D.O.” after their names, actually graduate from a “doctor of osteopathic” school and not a medical degree institution.  “D.O.” training programs after graduation are also considered less rigorous than similar “M.D.” training programs.

A client of CP Law’s Steve Crandall unfortunately found out this distinction makes a very large difference, when they sought out neurosurgical care.  Jim Layden developed hydrocephalus, a condition where the brain cannot adequately drain fluid. There are several accepted and relatively safe neurosurgical procedures designed to drain this fluid and allow the patient to live a normal life.

Unfortunately, Jim Layden was refered to a neurosurgeon who was not an MD, but had been educated and trained in a DO program.  This surgeon, likely due to their insufficient education and training, elected not to perform the two well established and lower risk procedures to fix Jim’s hydrocephalus, but instead chose a very rare and very high-risk procedure.  In doing so, this neurosurgeon caused severe and permanent damage to the middle portion of Jim’s brain, rendering him disabled for life and unable to independently care for himself or work ever again.

Steve Crandall investigated this case and obtained some of the world’s foremost neurosurgical experts, all M.D.’s, to represent Jim Layden’s interests in litigation.  After numerous depositions and before trial, the defendant chose to settle this matter, paying $4M to resolve the case.  This settlement will allow Jim to live in a care facility where he can obtain the best medical care for his future needs. Jim will also be able to hire medically trained individuals to better assist him in becoming as independent as possible.

Next time you go to the doctor, it is very important to research this critical difference in the education and training of the physician about to provide care to you!


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