Who is Liable for Patient Injury Due to Medical Errors?

Who is Liable for Patient Injury Due to Medical Errors?

Injury due to medical errors or malpractice causes an estimated 250,000 deaths annually. Only deaths from cancer and heart disease have higher rates, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. What recourse do you have if you are injured due to a medical error?

Patient Injury Due to Medical Error Statistics

  • One in seven Medicare patients in hospitals experiences a medical error.
  • Diagnostic mistakes lead to the injury or death of approximately 40,000 – 50,000 people annually.
  • Medical errors cost approximately $20 billion per year.
  • Approximately 4,000 Surgical errors occur annually.

Top Four Medical Errors

1. Medication Errors

The (NASEM), National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, report that at least 1.5 million people experience harm by medication errors every year. Many medications have serious side effects, cannot be mixed with certain other drugs, or cannot be given to patients with certain conditions. Medication errors include:

  • Prescribing or administering the wrong type of medication
  • Prescribing or administering the wrong amount of medication
  • Administering the drug at the wrong time.
  • Failure to consider a patient’s medical condition or potential drug interactions

2. Errors in Diagnosis

When a health care provider misdiagnoses a patient with the wrong medical condition, it can result in unnecessary medication and dangerous treatment. It can happen when a health care provider:

  • Fails to recognize the symptoms of the patient’s actual medical condition
  • Misreads the patient’s symptoms
  • Fails to review lab or diagnostic reports.

3. Anesthesia Errors

Neglecting to review the patient’s medical history, failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs while under anesthesia, or administering an incorrect dosage of anesthesia can result in complications that could injure the patient or lead to their death.

4. Surgical Errors

When a surgeon makes an operating room error, the outcome could be fatal. Surgical errors can include:

  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Puncturing an organ or blood vessel
  • Incorrect closing of the incision site

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

Any physician’s action or failure to act during the treatment of a patient that goes against standard medical practice and causes injury to the patient is medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice laws are designed to protect a patient’s rights to compensation if they are injured because of medical negligence. There are strict requirements in filing a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice cases fall under the jurisdiction of the state. Statutes of limitation vary by state, with most deadlines being not longer than two years from the date of injury.

To be successful in a medical malpractice charge, the plaintiff must prove:

  1. There was a legal duty on the part of the healthcare provider to provide treatment to the patient.
  2. The health care professional breached that duty by failing to adhere to the standard of care in the medical profession.
  3. The healthcare professional’s negligence caused the patient’s injury.
  4. Their injury resulted in damages, such as physical pain or additional medical costs.

You should be prepared to provide medical records of your procedures and names and contact information of any witnesses that can speak about your injuries. Monetary damages typically consider the patient’s actual economic and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Medical Malpractice law is complex. If you believe you’re the victim of medical malpractice, please contact Goldberg Persky and White P.C. today.

 

Sources:
Rodziewicz Thomas L.; Houseman Benjamin; Hipskind John E,  “Medical Error Reduction and Prevention” StatPearls (2021) [Link]
B. Sonny Bal, “An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States” PMC  (2009). [Link]
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