When we visit our doctor, whether we’ve got the flu or a broken bone, we expect to receive a certain level of care. When we don’t receive that level of care the consequences can be severe. Unfortunately, doctors make dangerous medical mistakes in the United States every day. As a result, some people’s lives are permanently changed. Other patients lose their lives.
If you’ve suffered at the hands of a negligent doctor, we can help you understand your legal rights as a patient and citizen. We’ll help you investigate your injury or the death of your loved one. While there’s never an excuse for medical malpractice, we can help you understand why you suffered your injury, so you can focus on your recovery. You may also be eligible for compensation.
In order to understand why doctors make dangerous mistakes, let’s take a look at some medical malpractice facts and statistics, the most common medical errors, and what can be done to prevent these mistakes.
Medical Malpractice Facts and Statistics
- Medical errors are the third leading caused of death in the United States.
- Nearly 200,000 patients die in hospitals each year because of a preventable mistake.
- Of those 200,000, approximately 80,000 to 100,000 deaths each year are related to a diagnostic error.
- In 2013, nearly $4 billion was paid out for medical malpractice claims.
- 95 percent of those claims were settled outside of court.
- The top five medical malpractice allegations have to do with diagnosis, surgery, treatment, obstetrics, and medication or anesthesia.
- The top three missed diagnoses were heart attack, cancer, and meningitis.
- Up to 16 percent of all medical malpractice claims are filed against primary care physicians.
Many of the figures above are shocking. In order to wrap your head around why so many patients die as a result of hospital errors, let’s take a look at the types of mistakes that occur.
Types of Dangerous Medical Mistakes
As you’ll be able to tell from the list below, almost all dangerous medical errors result from human error.
Diagnostic Mistakes. Diagnostic errors occur when a condition is misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. When this happens, permanent injury or death can occur.
Surgical Mistakes. Surgical errors happen for a variety of reasons; however, improper communication or lack of protocols are often contributing factors. If a patient is not properly identified prior to surgery, they may receive surgery meant for another patient. If a patient’s body is not marked properly, they could receive surgery on the wrong side of their body.
Treatment Mistakes. Treatment errors often happen when doctors aren’t effectively communicating. Patients may be sent for the wrong treatment or be given incorrect advice for managing their condition.
Obstetrics Mistakes. Childbirth injuries, whether they happen during pregnancy or delivery, can be severe. Bruising, hemorrhaging, brachial palsy, and fractures are some of the more common injuries a woman or baby may experience.
Medication/Anesthesia Mistakes. Medication and anesthesia mistakes can be deadly. If a patient is given the wrong medication or an improper dose, they make experience a series of side effects – temporary or permanent. Anesthesia mistakes happen when a patient is given too much or too little anesthesia prior to surgery. If a patient isn’t given enough, they may wake up during surgery. If a patient is given too much, they may suffer from brain damage.
Preventing Medical Errors
Because of how common medical errors are, it’s important as medical professionals and patients that we do what we can to aid in the prevention of these mistakes.
Steps Medical Professionals Can Take to Prevent Medical Errors
To maintain the required standard of care, there are steps medical professionals can take to avoid mistakes and provide their patients with the best care possible.
- Communicate effectively with all hospital staff and patients.
- Follow all hospitals protocols and procedures.
- Take responsibility for your actions.
- Do what you can to avoid working while fatigued.
Steps Patient Can Take to Prevent Medical Errors
While you may not feel you have much control over what happens to you in the hospital if a doctor makes a mistake, there are steps you can take to make sure you are receiving the best care possible.
- Make sure you tell the doctor everything about the medical problem you’re experiencing. Avoid leaving out details, no matter how uncomfortable you may be.
- Communicate with the doctors, nurses, and staff effectively during your stay.
- If you see something you think is wrong, say something as soon as possible.
- Make sure you understand everything about your condition and what you’re supposed to do to treat it.
Medical malpractice claims can be incredibly complex, especially when the hospital’s legal team get involved. At Todd W. Burris Law, we’re prepared to help you fight for the justice you deserve after suffering wrongfully because of a medical professional’s negligence.