When we go to the doctor’s office, a clinic, a hospital, or another healthcare facility, we 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 yearly. There are a few areas where mistakes are common. In fact, in some of these areas, the errors and consequent harm have reached epidemic proportions.
Disturbing Trends in Medical Malpractice
The deaths caused by preventable medical errors have worsened since the shocking estimated 98,000 annual deaths in the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report.
The trends are pretty disturbing. Since 1999 estimates for up to 98,000 deaths a year from the Institute of Medicine’s report “To Err is Human” 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 errors. 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 a 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 Delayed Diagnosis
Both misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis, whether connected or not, can have severe consequences for 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 severe injuries or death. Though there are far too many situations to outline, one standard and deadly consequence of misdiagnosis is associated with medication errors.
Not every delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis means a medical malpractice claim exists. 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.
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 annually by medication errors. This was a follow-up study from its 1999 study, “To Err is Human,” concluding that medication errors killed up to 7000 patients annually. Thousands more suffer severe and sometimes permanent injuries.
Though not every medication error will lead to severe 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 mistake resulted from medical negligence. And if it was, that patient has a right to recover for their injuries and other damages.
With all the moving parts that happen before, during, and after surgery, there is always a possibility of an error. These errors can have severe consequences for the patient. Surgical errors come in wide 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.
A range of errors emanates from one of the many healthcare professionals involved in the surgical process, from pre-op to surgery to post-op. The most common and severe 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 see, meaning there is no excuse for these errors. Even the first two merit careful evaluation. Whether it amounts to negligence depends on the circumstances and type of surgery.
It may come as a a surprise, but anesthesia errors can be much more severe than surgical ones. Though they are far less common than in the past, when they do occur, the consequences can be disastrous. Anesthesia errors can cause severe and permanent brain injuries, death, and other serious injuries. If a patient is seriously harmed during surgery, it is essential to look into the anesthesia.
For obvious reasons, birth injuries can have severe consequences for the child and the family. Birth injuries are relatively rare. When they 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, you must speak with an attorney immediately 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 millions of dollars in future medical care, rehabilitation, therapy, vocational training, lost income, and other costly damages.
Other Preventable Medical Error
Countless other areas of medical error occur at every step of the way, from the first office visit to the surgery. These are only rough estimates of the most common. It should be noted that infections are not even mentioned, though conditions have reached near epidemic levels. Though they are not listed here as standard medical errors, they are certainly more avoidable than the medical profession would have us believe.