According to a study published in The Journal of Patient Safety: “a lower limit of 210,000 deaths per year was associated with preventable harm in hospitals.” However, due to the “incompleteness” of medical records and known tendency for hospitals not to report errors, this number is estimated to be as high as 400,000 deaths per year. This makes medical malpractice one of the leading causes of death in the United States, just behind cancer and chronic lower respiratory diseases.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, hospital, rehab facility, or other health care provider acts below the standard of care expected and, as a result, causes harm to a patient to whom they owed a duty of care. The negligence can occur through the action of the medical professional or through their failure to act. Medical malpractice might be the result of diagnosis errors, medical treatment, health management, or aftercare treatment. In some cases, there may be multiple parties responsible for the malpractice.
Types of Medical Malpractice
There are many different types of medical malpractice, but the majority of claims can be categorized as:
- Hospital Negligence: A hospital’s failure to see patients in a timely manner is especially harmful. Certain conditions require immediate medical attention. Injuries such as strokes, heart attacks, and internal bleeding require speedy treatment for survival. Hospital negligence can occur by improperly reading or acting on diagnostic test. Additionally, hospital negligence can include: misdiagnosis, failure to treat, or improper medical treatment.
- Prescription Medication Errors: One of the most common forms of medical malpractice is prescription medication errors. The most frequent is the failure of a hospital to administer the proper medication and dosage in the allowable timeframe. Prescription errors also occur when there is incorrect dosing, failure to recognize drug interactions, and premature discontinuation of treatment. Additionally, failure to obtain patient’s known drug allergies constitutes negligence.
- Surgical Mistakes: When errors occur during surgery, patients can pay a high price. Surgical mistakes can cause serious and permanent injuries or even death.
- Anesthesia Errors: An anesthesia error is one of the most common surgical errors. This occurs when anesthesiologists improperly administer anesthetic drugs, fail to obtain a full medical history, fail to monitor the patient properly during surgery, or fail to follow up.
- Failure to Warn: Health care professions must advise their patients as to the known risks and benefits of medical treatment. Failing to fully advise a patient of the risks and allowing them to make an educated decision regarding their medical treatment, may be considered malpractice and, if an injury results, can be the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Wrongful Death: When medical malpractice causes a preventable death, the family of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice in Philadelphia, contact the experienced personal injury law firm of Lopez McHugh as soon as possible for a free and confidential consultation. Time limitations apply to your potential medical malpractice lawsuits, so call us today.