Medicine is big business in America. For better or worse, we’ve chosen a for-profit healthcare system to care for our citizens, and Americans spend more than 4.1 trillion dollars every year on healthcare. For that kind of money, you’d expect some serious miracles. Sadly, despite the ever-increasing amount of money spent on healthcare, it is estimated that a quarter million Americans die due to medical errors every year.
Many, if not most of these errors, are a result of genuine mistakes and accidents made by doctors and nurses who truly want the best for their patients. However, depending on the nature of the mistake, some of these mishaps could be classified as medical negligence or medical malpractice. Today, we’ll examine negligence versus malpractice and provide examples of medical malpractice. We’ll also advise you on next steps if you feel you’ve been a victim of medical negligence or malpractice and need a nursing home abuse lawyer.
Negligence Versus Malpractice
Malpractice versus negligence in nursing and hospitals isn’t always clear. Medical negligence refers to an injury to a patient that is caused by a mistake or carelessness. Malpractice is a more severe scenario in which the doctor willfully disregards the patient’s safety by failing to follow established medical protocols leading to death or injury.
Here are some examples of negligence on the part of a doctor and how those acts of negligence could be elevated to the level of malpractice:
An anesthesiologist incorrectly calculates how much medication the patient will require to remain unconscious during a surgery. As a result, the patient wakes up mid-surgery and causes harm to themselves.
This could be considered malpractice if the patient clearly stated in the pre-surgery interview that they had drug-related issues, and would therefore require a higher dosage of drugs to remain unconscious. It was listed on the patient’s chart, and according to witnesses present during the surgery, the anesthesiologist loudly exclaimed that they have been doing this for years and don’t need to perform the pre-surgery checklist before beginning the procedure.
Foreign Object Left in After Surgery
It’s estimated that in the United States, 1,500 foreign objects are accidentally left in patients’ bodies during surgeries each year. Common objects like gauze can cause serious–and possibly deadly–infections. In some cases, entire surgical instruments have been left behind, causing severe pain and injury to the patient.
If, upon investigation, it turns out that the doctor has a history of leaving objects inside of patients they care for, it could easily be considered malpractice. Furthermore, as noted in the anesthesiology example above, the doctor may recklessly and willfully disregard pre- and post-surgery checklists.
Allergic Reaction or Mixing Medications
One of the most critical components of a patient’s chart is their current and past medication history and any allergies they may have. A doctor who fails to notice the patient is currently taking a sedative and then prescribes an opioid painkiller could easily kill their patient. Similarly, a doctor who fails to confirm with the patient that they are allergic to penicillin could cause their patient to have a serious reaction. Errors like this could be elevated to malpractice if the doctor knew the risks and decided to ignore established medical protocols, or if the doctor has a history of disregarding patient charts.
I Think I’m a Victim of Malpractice, What Are the Next Steps?
If you believe you are a victim of medical negligence or malpractice, you should reach out to a qualified medical malpractice attorney, like those at Strom Law Firm, for a consultation. An experienced malpractice lawyer on your side can be the difference between getting the compensation you deserve, or going home empty-handed and being left with the lingering pain of the doctor’s mistake.