When we go the doctor’s office, a clinic, hospital or other healthcare facility, me must place enormous trust in our healthcare professionals.  For the most part, that trust is earned and well placed.

However, medical errors are far too common killing hundreds of thousands and injuring millions more each and every year.  There are a few areas where mistakes are common.  In fact, in some of these areas, the mistakes and consequent harm have reached epidemic proportions.

Disturbing Trends in Medical Malpractice

The numbers on deaths by preventable medical error have grown much worse since the fairly shocking estimated 98,000 annual deaths in the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report.

The trends are pretty disturbing.  Since the 1999 estimates for up to 98,000 deaths a year from the Institute of Medicine’s report “To Err is Humanthe numbers have gotten far worse.  More recent estimates from the Journal of Patient Safety estimate as many as 440,000 deaths per year from preventable medical error.  Equally appalling, the study suggests that 10 to 20 times that number suffer serious harm.

Though not all medical errors amount to medical negligence, many do.  If you or loved one has been harmed and you believe it was the result of medical negligence, it is certainly within your rights to consult with an attorney to determine if you have a medical malpractice claim.

The following are common areas of medical error and common grounds for  medical malpractice claims.

Misdiagnosis and/or Delayed Diagnosis

Both misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis, whether they are connected or not, can have serious consequences to the patient.
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are two separate areas of negligence.  However, they often come in pairs.  After all, a misdiagnosis will typically entail or lead to a delayed diagnosis.

Delayed diagnosis can have disastrous and often deadly consequences.  Though delayed diagnosis occurs in many areas of medicine, the delayed diagnosis of cancer is among the most common and certainly among the most deadly.

Though misdiagnosis often goes hand in hand with delayed diagnosis, it sometimes stands alone.  Likewise, it can result in very serious injuries or death.  Though there are far too many situations to outline here, one common and deadly consequence of a misdiagnosis is associated medication errors.

Not every delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis means there is a medical malpractice claim.  In fact, medical negligence is not involved in most such cases.  However, if a delay or misdiagnosis has caused you or a loved one serious injury or death, it is your right to know.

Medication Errors

1.5 million patients each year suffer harm as a result of medication errors.

According to a 2006 study from the Institute of Medicine, 1.5 million patients are harmed every year by medication errors    This was actually a follow up study from its 1999 study, “To Err is Human,” that concluded that up to 7000 patients per year were killed by medication errors.  Thousands more suffer serious and sometimes permanent injuries.

Though not every medication error will lead to serious injury or death, or even suggest medical negligence, a great many do.  When a patient is seriously harmed or killed by a medication error, that patient has a right to know if the error was the result of medical negligence.  And if it was, that patient has a right to recover for his or her injuries and other damages.

Surgery Errors

With all of the moving parts that happen before, during and after a surgery there is always a possibility of an error occurring. These errors can have serious consequences for the patient.
Surgical errors come in many varieties.  They also derive from many sources.  Surgery involves many healthcare professionals and staff.  A weak link in the chain can be disastrous and sometimes deadly.

There is a range of errors each emanating from one of the many healthcare professionals involved in surgical process from pre-op to surgery to post-op.   Among the most common and most serious include puncturing adjacent organs, severing nerves, removing or otherwise operating on the wrong organ, operating on the wrong patient, and the not too uncommon situation where surgical tools or supplies are left in the patient.

All but the first two would be negligence per se meaning that there is absolutely no excuse for these errors.  Even the first two merit very careful evaluation.  Whether it amounts to negligence depends on the circumstances and type of surgery.

Anesthesia Errors

It may come as surprise, but anesthesia errors can be far more serious than surgical errors.  Though they are far less common than in the past, when they do occur, the consequences can be disastrous.  Anesthesia errors can cause serious and permanent brain injuries, death and other serious injuries.  As such, if a patient is seriously harmed during a surgery, it is very important to look into the anesthesia.

Childbirth Injuries

For obvious reasons, birth injuries can have serious consequences for both the child and family.
Birth injuries are relatively rare.  When they do occur, they can be the most devastating injuries a child and a family can suffer.  There are many causes of birth injuries.  Many of these cannot be prevented by doctors or other medical providers.

However, when they are caused by medical negligence or even suspected, it is essential that you speak with an attorney right away to ensure that your family and your injured child are compensated.  This is particularly important in these cases since birth injuries can often lead to literally millions of dollars in future medical care, rehabilitation, therapy, vocational training, lost income and other very costly damages.

Other Preventable Medical Error

There are countless other areas of medical error that occur at every step of the way from the first office visit to surgery.  These are only a rough estimate of the most common.  It should be noted that infections are not even mentioned, though infections have reached near epidemic levels.  Though they are not listed here as a common medical error, they are certainly more avoidable than the medical profession would have us believe.