Common Causes for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The number of medical malpractice lawsuits with multi-million-dollar payments to victims has risen significantly over the last 10 years in the United States.

That’s one of the findings in a recently released study of medical malpractice lawsuits by CRICO Strategies, “Medical Malpractice in America: A 10-year Assessment with Insights.”  CRICO Strategies insures Harvard University medical institutions.

Researchers reviewed 124,000 medical malpractice lawsuits between 2007 and 2016; about 30 percent of all claims filed in that timeframe.  The report notes that these events affected not only patients but the patients’ families as well.

Rise in Million Dollar Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Payments

The rate of medical malpractice lawsuits per 100 physicians dropped over the 10-year period.  But the average payout rose, to $360,000.  And the number of higher financial awards to victims of medical malpractice lawsuits – between $3 million to $7 million – rose 7 percent annually.

The report found that poor clinical judgement by healthcare providers dealing with patient assessment was the leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits.  This covers mistakes made in hospitals, emergency rooms, and outpatient clinics.

Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Claims

The obstetrics/gynecology practice is one that frequently faces medical malpractice claims. Yet the number of medical malpractice lawsuits involving ob/gyns dropped between 2007 and 2016. The explanation the report provides for this drop addresses another common source of serious medical errors.

Researchers cite better communication between healthcare staff during labor and delivery as a possible reason for fewer lawsuits for birth injuries and labor complications. Poor communication between providers has been found to be a major cause of medical mistakes across the board, and was a leading cause cited in this report.

The medical malpractice lawsuit study examined misdiagnosis claims, a common but serious type of preventable medical error.  There are three steps in the diagnostic process outlined in this report: Initial Diagnostic Assessment, Testing and Results Processing, and Follow Up and Coordination. The report identified serious mistakes made during the diagnostic process that lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • Patient’s symptoms or complaints not adequately addressed – 35 percent of medical malpractice claims
  • Inaccurate, incomplete testing or wrong testing conclusions – 26 percent of medical malpractice claims
  • Appropriate referrals not made following testing – 24 percent of medical malpractice claims

The report notes that a majority of misdiagnoses made in outpatient facilities involved at least two errors in the diagnostic process.

Medical mistakes reportedly kill hundreds of thousands of people each year in this country. The nation’s court system remains the viable manner to seek justice for patients and their families who have suffered from medical malpractice.

If you had a family member die or you suffered serious injuries during medical treatment and suspect that treatment was substandard, contact a medical malpractice lawyer to thoroughly review your claim.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog February 22, 2019