You would think you could trust doctors implicitly with your medical care.
“Every day, people trust doctors with their lives. That’s a reasonable assumption – physicians and other healthcare professionals have a sworn duty to provide safe, ethical and accurate medical treatment to their patients,” says an article from one of the top personal injury firms in Chicago. “But that doesn’t always happen. As many as 250,000 people in America are the victims of medical malpractice every year.”
Medical malpractice is defined as any harm that comes to a patient because of a healthcare professional’s negligent or intentional mistake. Many of these mistakes lead to long-term injury or death and could have been prevented.
Knowing the causes of medical malpractice in healthcare institutions across the nation can help medical professionals improve their practices and can prevent patients from falling victim to mistakes. Doctors are not infallible, and here are some of the top reasons medical malpractice occurs.
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Most Common Reasons Medical Malpractice Occurs
“It’s the health-care provider’s mental state more than the type or severity of a given procedure that’s relevant to whether a mistake occurs,” Virginia-based attorney Jason Konvicka suggests in a Forbes article. He’s referring not to the healthcare provider’s mental stability, but rather to the way stress factors impair decision-making skills.
Complacency is one of the most common causes of errors, Konvicka said. Doctors often get too comfortable and don’t always explore all the possibilities. “‘Tunnel vision,’ or the failure to look at the big picture, can also lead to medical mistakes,” he says.
2. Diagnosis Mistakes
Diagnosing many illnesses is as simple as running tests and getting a conclusive answer. However, science and research are limited when it comes to many health conditions, and misdiagnosis is not uncommon. If a healthcare provider doesn’t perform his or her due diligence when screening for illnesses, they could incorrectly or fail to diagnose a patient, bringing undue harm upon their heads.
Mammogram screenings are a prime example of diagnosis failures. The American Cancer Society reports that as many as 20 percent of mammogram tests come back with false negatives. A healthcare provider should be aware of these numbers and properly follow up on negative test results to ensure they’re accurate. When caught early, breast cancer is easily treated, so this due diligence saves countless lives.
3. Medication Errors
The number of medication mistakes made in the United States is shocking. Every year, about one million medication mistakes are made. For some patients, administration of the wrong medication could be life-threatening or even fatal.
Medication errors can be at the hand of the doctor who wrote the wrong prescription or whose poor handwriting is indecipherable. It could be the fault of the pharmacist who filled the wrong prescription.
In many cases, it’s the fault of a healthcare assistant, such as in the case of the nursing home. If a nurse mixes up medication on their rounds, the results could be catastrophic.
4. Surgical Errors
Surgeons practice for hours on end to deliver the best quality care to their patients, but mistakes can be made. Some are made during surgery when pressure is high, and time is of the essence. Others are made during the pre- or post-operative care periods.
Mistakes during surgery might include leaving a foreign object inside the body, operating on the wrong patient, operating on the wrong body part, or incorrectly administering anesthesia.
“I continue to find the frequency of these events alarming and disturbing,” Donald Fry, MD, executive vice president at Michael Pine and Associates, a health care think tank in Chicago, told WebMD. “I think it’s a difficult thing for clinicians to talk about, but it is something that must be improved.”
“I do think it’s always appropriate for concerned patients to discuss the issues about what will be done to make sure that this doesn’t happen to me or my family member,” he continues.
With this in mind, if you’re ever faced with a surgical error or any other medical malpractice case, there’s no shame in seeking legal representation. Physicians must be held to the highest standard of medical care—lives depend on it!
Patients and attorneys have a responsibility to minimize medical errors and promote excellent medical care throughout the world, and sometimes a strong medical malpractice case is the best way to guarantee results.