We trust doctors, nurses and other healthcare specialists to take all the necessary precautions to keep us healthy and safe. In fact, no profession may be more widely trusted and respected than the medical field. However, like all other professionals, individuals in the medical field are human and prone to making mistakes.
The key difference between a medical mistake and, say, an accounting error is that a medical mistake can potentially endanger your life.
Approximately 251,454 people die as a result of medical malpractice every year in the United States.
Recent studies show that medical errors are the third-most common cause of death in the United States. As recently reported by The Washington Post, preventable medical errors kill more Americans than Alzheimer’s disease and accidents, which can be surprising for many to find out.
When an individual dies or suffers a worsened condition because of a healthcare professional’s mistake, the mistake is labeled “medical malpractice.”
Medical malpractice is a term that can encompass a variety of errors, oversights and reckless actions. When an individual suffers as a result of medical malpractice, the individual or his or her loved ones may be entitled to file a medical malpractice claim to recover compensation for the damages associated with the worsened condition, injury or premature death.
How Common Are Medical Mistakes?
According to CNN, recent study published in BMJ found that most medical errors are not officially reported. Other relevant statistics include:
- Approximately 251,454 people die as a result of medical malpractice every year in the United States
- Medical errors are only behind cancer and heart disease as the top cause of death for American.
- Approximately half of surgeries performed at Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the top hospitals in the country, involve a drug-related error, according to another article in The Washington Post.
Why Do Medical Mistakes Happen?
Medical mistakes happen for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are completely preventable. Examples of reasons why medical mistakes occur include:
- Unclear or falsified information in a patient’s medical chart, leading a doctor to take a course of action he or she might not have taken if he or she had the correct information about the patient
- Exhaustion on the part of a doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider
- An attempt to “take a shortcut” with the patient’s treatment
- Incorrect billing codes
- Misuse of anesthesia or medication such as administering the wrong type of medication or the wrong dosage for the patient.
Medical mistakes can range from a failure to diagnose a condition to a failure to follow up with the patient following his or her treatment. Other types of malpractice include rough handling of the patient and leaving surgical equipment inside the patient after surgery.
How Safe Is Your Local Hospital?
You can find your local hospital and its safety score on the website, HospitalSafetyScore.com. You can see each hosptial’s rate of lives saved, lives lost and other relevant statistics these can help you to choose the hospital to use for your next procedure.
Talk to your doctor about your safety concerns before you go into the hospital for your procedure. You should include your spouse or another loved one in these conversations. While you are in the hospital and as you recover, this individual may have to act as your advocate when working with your insurance and healthcare providers.
What Can You Do If Harmed by Medical Errors?
If you are harmed by a medical error, the most important thing you need to do is to get yourself the necessary medical care to recover from your injury or worsened condition. You should worry about paying for this reparative treatment later. For now, focus on getting yourself healthy.
Next, consider seeking compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim. Like other types of personal injury claims, you will need to provide proof that medical malpractice occurred, and this malpractice was the direct cause of your worsened condition.
You can do this by providing copies of your medical records, expert testimony from the doctor who helped you to recover from the malpractice and testimony from yourself and others about your initial condition and how the negligent doctor’s errors made it worse or left it untreated.
Work with an Experienced New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer
If you are suffering because of an act of medical malpractice or you have lost a loved one due to a healthcare professional’s error, you could be entitled to recover compensation for your damages through a medical malpractice claim.
To learn more about filing and pursuing a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim due to medical malpractice, contact a member of our team of experienced New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.