Doctors are entrusted with people’s health, wellbeing, and lives. Thanks to their rigorous training, they often fulfill their responsibilities with care and professionalism. In case they don’t, the stakes are extremely high–medical malpractice can lead to harm, injury, or even death.
Let’s look at what medical malpractice is and the deaths caused by medical malpractice each year.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider makes a mistake or an omission that causes injury, harm, or death. As opposed to medical negligence which constitutes mistakes made in ignorance or neglect, medical malpractice refers to acts or omissions made despite the knowledge of possible consequences.
Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Incorrectly interpreting laboratory test results
- Misdiagnosing an illness
- Allowing a patient to be discharged prematurely
- Giving the wrong medication
- Giving the wrong dosage of medication
- Making mistakes in surgery
- Performing unnecessary surgery
- Leaving foreign objects, such as medical instruments and sponges, inside a patient after surgery
- Providing inadequate aftercare
If you find yourself a victim of medical malpractice, it is possible to file a lawsuit for malpractice against your healthcare provider. This is something an attorney such as a Lexington, SC nursing home abuse lawyer can help you with.
How Many People Die Per Year as a Result Of Medical Malpractice?
A study by Johns Hopkins has revealed a shocking fact: medical errors lead to approximately one-third of the deaths in the United States every year. That is, about 251,000 people die each year due to these errors, according to this study. Other studies cite the number of deaths by medical errors each year to be as high as 440,000.
However, less than 10% of medical errors are reported, which means that the actual number of people dying from medical errors may be even higher.
What Are the Causes of Medical Malpractice Deaths?
While the study by Johns Hopkins has been able to estimate the number of deaths by medical malpractice per year, here are a few more facts about the causes of deaths by medical malpractice:
- Unnecessary surgeries result in about 10,000 deaths per year.
- Performing surgery at the wrong site, taking out an organ, or performing incorrect incisions can also lead to the death of the patient.
- Medical complications may lead to over 100,000 deaths per year.
- Medication errors such as prescribing the wrong drug, failing to administer the drug at the right time, giving the wrong dosage of drug, or not accounting for drug interactions may also lead to death.
- Out of approximately twelve million people who suffer a misdiagnosis in the United States each year, between 40,000 and 80,000 die due to the misdiagnosis.
- The FDA reports that prescription errors cause 1.3 million injuries and deaths each year.
- According to the CDC, 70,000 deaths per year can occur due to infection, which can be caught from the neonatal, pediatric, or burn ICUs in the hospital.
- Improper supervision of a critical patient in the hospital can prevent them from getting the proper care and even lead to death.
- Malfunctioning medical equipment or tools used by doctors in treatment can, in serious cases, lead to patient death.
How Can You Avoid Becoming a Victim of Medical Malpractice?
Although it is difficult to eliminate all of the risk at hand when you consent to a medical procedure or seek healthcare services, it is important to take steps to minimize the risk of becoming a victim of medical malpractice:
- Seek a second opinion from another doctor just in case. This can ensure that you do not suffer due to a single doctor’s negligence or incompetence.
- When going to the hospital, take someone along who can help you understand and process important information that you need to make decisions.
- Download a healthcare app that stores all your medical information to help your doctors make the best decisions.
Of course, if an instance of potential medical malpractice leads to a desire to seek legal action, be sure to contact an attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases, such as those at Strom Law, to help.
For those wondering how much you can sue a hospital for negligence, rather than malpractice, take a look at our latest post.