Medical errors are a serious concern in the healthcare industry, and they are believed to be a leading cause of hospital deaths. According to a report by the National Academy of Medicine, medical errors are responsible for between 210,000 and 440,000 deaths each year in the United States, making it the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.
Medical errors can take many forms, from misdiagnosis and delayed treatment to surgical errors and medication mistakes. They can occur at any stage of the healthcare process, from the initial consultation to the post-treatment follow-up.
One of the main reasons medical errors are such a significant problem is the complexity of the healthcare system. With so many providers involved in the care of a single patient, it can be difficult to coordinate and communicate effectively, leading to errors and mistakes.
The healthcare industry is taking steps to address the concern of medical errors, but much work remains to be done. Patient safety initiatives, improved communication and coordination among healthcare providers, and better systems for reporting and tracking errors are all key steps in reducing the number of deaths caused by medical errors.
What Are Some Common Medical Mistakes?
Medical mistakes can take many forms, and they can occur at any stage of the healthcare process.
Here are a few examples of common medical mistakes and causes of hospital death:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to correctly diagnose a patient’s condition or delays in making a diagnosis, which can lead to a delay in treatment or the wrong treatment being prescribed.
- Medication errors: This occurs when a healthcare provider prescribes the wrong medication or the wrong dosage or fails to monitor the patient for side effects.
- Surgical errors: This occurs when a healthcare provider makes a mistake during a surgical procedure, such as performing the wrong procedure or leaving surgical instruments inside the patient.
- Anesthesia errors: This occurs when a healthcare provider administers the wrong type or amount of anesthesia or fails to monitor the patient for complications.
- Birth injuries: This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to properly monitor a pregnant woman or the newborn or fails to recognize and treat a complication during labor and delivery.
- Hospital-acquired infections: This occurs when a patient contracts an infection while in the hospital, which can be caused by unsanitary conditions or the improper use of equipment.
- Failure to obtain informed consent: This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to explain the risks and benefits of a procedure or treatment to a patient or fails to obtain the patient’s consent before proceeding.
Not all medical mistakes are considered medical malpractice, but all of them can cause harm to the patient. It’s important for healthcare providers to take measures to prevent these mistakes and to report them when they happen.
How Common Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a serious issue, but the exact incidence is hard to determine. It’s considered under-reported and under-diagnosed, as it’s difficult to detect and prove. However, some estimates suggest that it is relatively common.
Not all medical errors are considered medical malpractice, however. Medical malpractice is a specific legal term that refers to a healthcare provider’s failure to use the required standard of care, which results in harm to the patient.
A study by the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) found that in 2020, there were over 71,000 malpractice payments made by healthcare providers and insurance companies in the United States.
What Are the Remedies for Medical Errors?
There are several remedies available for medical errors, and the most appropriate one will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Only a small percentage of medical malpractice cases go to trial. Most are settled out of court with the help of a medical malpractice lawyer.
Here are a few examples of remedies that may be available:
- Medical malpractice lawsuits: A patient who has been harmed by a medical error may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the healthcare provider or facility responsible for the error. If the lawsuit is successful, the patient may be able to recover damages for his or her injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Administrative remedies: A patient who has been harmed by a medical error may be able to file a complaint with the relevant state medical board or other regulatory agency. The agency may investigate the complaint and take disciplinary action against the healthcare provider or facility if they are found to have violated any laws or regulations.
- Criminal charges: In some cases, a healthcare provider or facility may be charged with a crime if they are found to have caused harm to a patient through medical malpractice. The criminal charges may include charges of negligence, reckless behavior, or even manslaughter.
- Patient safety initiatives: Many healthcare providers and facilities have implemented patient safety initiatives to reduce the incidence of medical errors. These initiatives may include things like implementing new protocols, providing additional training for healthcare staff, and implementing new technology to improve patient care.
- Mediation and alternative dispute resolution: Mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods can be an effective way to resolve disputes related to medical errors. Mediation can be less formal and less expensive than going to court, and can often result in a resolution that is more satisfactory to both parties.
The remedies for medical errors depend on the specific circumstances of the case. It could be filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, administrative remedies, criminal charges, patient safety initiatives, or mediation and alternative dispute resolution. If you believe you’ve been harmed by a medical error, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you to understand your rights and the available options.
Can I Sue a Hospital for a Medical Error?
You may be able to sue a hospital for a medical error, but it depends on the specific circumstances of your case. To sue a hospital for medical malpractice, you must prove that the hospital and its staff were negligent in providing care and that this negligence resulted in harm to you or your loved one. This typically requires the testimony of medical experts and a thorough review of medical records.
How Much Money Can I Recover for a Medical Error?
The amount of money that can be recovered for a medical error will depend on the damages you sustained. Factors such as the severity of the injury, the cost of medical treatment, and the patient’s ability to work and earn a living will all affect the amount of damages that can be recovered.
In general, damages that may be recoverable in a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
Medical expenses: This includes past and future medical expenses related to the injury, such as doctor’s visits, the cost of any ongoing treatment, and hospital stays.
Lost wages: This includes any wages that were lost as a result of the injury, as well as any future earning potential that may have been impacted by the injury.
Pain and suffering: This includes compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish that resulted from the injury.
Punitive damages: These are damages intended to punish the healthcare provider for his or her actions and to deter similar behavior in the future. Punitive damages are not common and are awarded only in cases of severe misconduct or gross negligence.
Loss of consortium: This includes compensation for the loss of companionship, love, and support that results from the injury.
State laws vary in the amount of damages that can be recovered for medical malpractice. Some states have caps on the amount of damages that can be recovered. Also, the ability to recover damages also depends on the ability to prove that the medical professional was negligent and that negligence caused the injury.
The amount of money that can be recovered for a medical error will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the laws of the state where the case is filed. Damages that may be recoverable include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. It’s important to seek legal advice to understand your rights and the available options.
Can a Sepsis Lawyer Help Detect Medical Malpractice?
A sepsis lawyer can help detect medical malpractice by reviewing the medical records and determining if the healthcare providers involved failed to diagnose or properly treat the sepsis in a timely manner, which led to injury or death. He or she can also gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a case to present in court.
However, not all cases of sepsis or its complications are the results of medical malpractice, and contacting a lawyer is the best way to determine if there is a viable case.