Medical malpractice is a serious issue and one that has major implications, both legally and medically. Every day in the U.S., doctors and medical providers make mistakes which impact patients' lives and health. But what exactly is medical malpractice and how common is it in the United States? In this blog post, we'll explore these topics in detail to better understand how medical errors can occur and what to do if you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as an act or omission by a health care provider in which the treatment given to a patient is in violation of standard care that causes injury or death to a patient. These cases can include negligence or recklessness of doctors and medical staff in hospitals, clinics, and other areas. Unfortunately, when medical malpractice occurs, it can have long-term effects on a person's life and take away years of enjoyment and quality of life, or result in someone's death.
According to an eight year study conducted by Johns Hopkins, more that 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical errors in the U.S. In addition, the American Medical Association (AMA) states that one in three clinicians will be sued at least once during their career. While medical malpractice can seem rare, these statistics indicate its prevalence.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is an unfortunately common occurrence and can take many forms. It is important to educate yourself on the warning signs of possible mistreatment so that you can be aware if something goes wrong.
Forms of medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis: When a doctor fails to recognize the illness a patient is suffering from, it can lead to other problems, such as prescribing incorrect medication or a patient’s condition progressing to a stage where it is difficult or impossible to be treated.
- Surgical errors: There are multiple reasons for surgical errors to occur and may include:
- Incorrect procedure
- Unnecessary surgery
- Damage to organs, nerves, and tissue that could have been avoided
- Un-sterilized medical equipment
- Medical equipment left inside the patient
- Inadequate aftercare
However, this is not to be mistaken with the risks associated with surgeries, and surgeons are required to notify patients about surgical risks.
- Birth injuries: Medical errors can cause shoulder dystocia, nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, and other harm to newborns.
- Failure to treat: This form of medical malpractice occurs when a patient is diagnosed but they are discharged too soon or not provided the standard care needed for their condition.
- Prescription errors: When the wrong prescription is ordered or filled, this can cause patients to have serious side effects.
- Failure to prevent infection: Hospitals are responsible for keeping their clinics clean. If conditions are unclean or equipment is unsterilized, this can lead to infection.
- Anesthesia errors: When an anesthesiologist makes a mistake, this can lead to pain, brain injuries, and death in patients.
Take an Active Role
There are a few steps you can take to establish a more active role in your healthcare:
- Keep open communication with medical professionals: Ask questions and be sure you understand their answers. Also be sure to be transparent about other medications you take, past treatments, allergies etc.
- Research your doctor: Before seeking medical care, it’s important to do research on potential doctors. You can check court records to see if they have had previous medical malpractice cases.
- Get a second opinion: It is important to get a second opinion from another medical professional.
Being communicative and doing your own research are a few ways to help you and your family when seeking medical care. However, if you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice, reach out to our personal injury attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C to get the compensation you deserve.
Call at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online for a consultation.