A recent CNBC report shows that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US. That’s right behind heart disease and cancer. And this is in spite of technological advancements designed to help minimize medical errors.
This goes to show that it’s a huge problem and one that needs to be fixed so that people don’t end up losing their lives when they go to the hospital to get the treatment they need for their conditions.
This rise in the number of deaths linked to medical errors has also birthed a wave of malpractice lawsuits. People who have lost loved ones to medical errors or have been injured because of this have been suing doctors and healthcare establishments all over the US.
The Prevalence of Medical Malpractice
The reason medical mistakes are getting so much flak is that unlike cancer and heart disease, these mistakes can be avoided to a large extent. Unfortunately, the current state of healthcare probably makes that very difficult.
For instance, estimates have shown that the average physician has more patients than they can handle and not enough staff to attend to them during the early/clerking periods.
This means that they often have to rush through patient care, thus increasing their likelihood of making mistakes in the process.
These mistakes, as innocuous as they may seem at the time, can actually go on to cost people their lives or put in disability for the rest of their natural lives. Over the course of the years, a pattern has emerged showing how these medical errors occur.
Naturally, because of their rising spate, more people who have been injured or whose loved ones have been injured or killed, are taking the path of medical malpractice lawsuits to get some compensation or respite for the harm, pain, injury, damage, and loss suffered.
The main reasons why patients routinely file for a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
Delayed Medical Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
This is one of the more common reasons for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Please note that these are different from each other. Delayed diagnosis is a diagnosis that could be right, but wasn’t done early enough.
As a result, the patient’s condition deteriorates to the point where they either can’t be saved or the injury results in extensive damage.
A good example of this is a patient going to the ER with chest pain, and while the doctors are trying to figure out what the problem might be, it degenerates into a huge heart attack. This delayed diagnosis, even if necessary, can result in considerable harm.
As for misdiagnosis, this is a case where the doctor diagnoses something completely different from the patient’s condition. This means that the patient can end up getting treated for a condition they do not have, while the main condition itself continues to fester.
If this diagnosis is found to be wrong in the future –usually after another diagnosis by another doctor- and it’s too late to remedy the situation, this leaves the first doctor liable to a malpractice lawsuit.
A good example of misdiagnosis is when a patient comes in with stomach problems, only to be told that they have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. But, after months of treating it without any improvement, the patient seeks a second opinion and finds out that they have stage 3 or 4 stomach cancer.
In this scenario, the patient easily hires a Medical Malpractice Attorney New York City or in their city to sue the first doctor for misdiagnosis.
Failure to Diagnose or Treat
When patients come into the clinic, they expect that they’ll be attended to as quickly as possible. But, if there’s a lapse in patient care resulting in them not getting the treatment they came in for, the clinic and/or its staff can be sued by the patient.
Failure to treat usually happens when a doctor attends to an individual but doesn’t determine what the problem is or recommend a treatment option. The same also applies if a doctor dismisses a patient’s symptoms as nothing, instead of getting them to take the necessary tests they need.
It could also mean a doctor not recommending a patient to a specialist who can handle and effectively treat his condition.
In each of these cases, there’s a clear indication of significant negligence. Once this can be established, then the individual can actually file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor, the hospital and/or his staff. This is why doctors and their team need to pay better attention to patient care.