Just how common is medical malpractice?

by Steven B. Vinick
July 19th, 2018

Medical malpractice cases are frightening, to say the least.

A study by Johns Hopkins University found that over 250,000 patients die annually from medical error, placing medical malpractice as the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. That’s 10 percent of all annual deaths in the United States.

These deaths can occur due to many factors: disregard of proper safety measures, uncoordinated health care, varied practice patterns, and more. It is an unfortunately common institutional problem, ultimately caused by a breach of patient care. That’s why it’s so important to know the common types of medical malpractice, so that you’ll know if you’ve been affected.

Misdiagnoses make up a large number of medical malpractice claims. If a condition is left misdiagnosed – or undiagnosed – a patient could run the risk of serious damage, or even death. In these types of cases, it is important to show that the accused doctor handled the patient’s case wrong by showing that someone else would not have made the same error.

These types of cases can lead to prescription errors, another form of medical malpractice. If a doctor prescribes an inappropriate drug and dosage, or misses a harmful drug interaction, the patient may have a basis for a medical malpractice claim. In a similar way, anesthesia errors – less frequent, but very dangerous – can cause serious harm or death. In these cases, a doctor may have given too much anesthesia, used poor equipment, improperly inserted a tracheal tube, and more.

Patients also run the risk of error during surgery and childbirth. Some surgery errors may include operating on the wrong part of the body, puncturing a blood vessel or an organ, or not removing surgical equipment from inside the body. Surgery errors can also take place during postoperative care, if healthcare staff give inappropriate medications or use improper procedures that could cause the patient to heal poorly.

In pregnancy and childbirth malpractice, negligent medical treatment can harm the mother and the fetus during pregnancy. Some of these errors can include failure to diagnose medical conditions, failure to diagnose a contagious disease, or failure to notice potential birth defects in the fetus. During childbirth, errors such as ignoring birth complications, leaving the umbilical cord tangled around the baby, or inappropriate use of tools like a vacuum extractor or forceps can provide the basis for a medical malpractice claim.

If you think that you are the victim of medical malpractice, do not hesitate to contact an attorney. They can help you thoroughly review what happened by inspecting medical records, taking interviews, and more.

A principal in Joseph, Greenwald & Laake’s Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Civil Litigation practice groups, Steven Vinick has more than 20 years of experience in representing clients in matters including medical malpractice, personal injury and criminal defense. Over the course of that career, Steven has earned a reputation as a skilled litigator and highly effective courtroom advocate.

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