Twenty years ago, a landmark report (“To Err is Human”) found that as many 98,000 people die from medical errors in this country every year. And just three years ago, another study said that only heart disease and cancer caused more deaths in the United States than preventable medical mistakes.
According to that more recent Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study (“Medical Error—the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.”), more than 250,000 people die annually from medical errors.
What is a Medical Error?
That study defines a medical error to include:
· A mistake in execution during treatment
· An error in the planning of medical care
Victims of serious medical errors, or their surviving family members, often run into roadblocks when trying to determine what went wrong. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit many times is the only way to obtain justice for victims of medical malpractice.
A new report published in late November sheds light on medical malpractice lawsuits – who is sued and why.
The medical news and information website Medscape published its “Malpractice Report 2019” on November 20. The study included more than 4,300 physicians in over 29 specialty practice areas. They were surveyed online between August and September of this year.
It shows the prevalence of medical errors, as half of the physicians reported they, along with other parties, were named in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Of those, specialists were sued for medical malpractice more than primary care physicians – 62% versus 52%.
Surgical Errors Leading Cause of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
There really are no “routine” surgeries. Every type of operation carries some sort of inherent risk. But those risks should be known and prepared for by surgical teams. It’s no surprise, then, that this study showed surgery as the practice area most likely to be sued for seriously harming patients.
The study notes that a mistake or mistakes made during one operation are more likely to be identified, as opposed to uncovering all the potential factors and mistakes involved in a long hospital stay that often requires multiple care givers and various treatment avenues.
What are the most common errors that lead to medical malpractice lawsuits? The Medscape report found that these were the leading serious medical mistakes:
· Misdiagnosis – failure to diagnose or a delay in correct patient diagnosis
· Surgical complications
· Failure to provide proper medical treatment or a delay in properly treating a patient
· Wrongful death
While the majority of financial awards from medical malpractice lawsuits in this report were between $100,000 and $500,000, 29% were for $1 million or more. Despite these sizeable outcomes, more doctors than not found them to be just compensation for the victims of medical errors, as 58% of the physicians sued for malpractice thought they were fair.
The unexpected death of a loved one due to an error made during medical care often leaves more lingering questions for grieving family members than answers provided by the care givers. If you or your family was a victim of a serious medical mistake, turn to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to investigate on your behalf.
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 December 16, 2019