Tuesday, August 13, 2019

What You Need to Know About Common Medical Mistakes

When you visit your doctor or enter the hospital for treatment or a surgical procedure, you expect that all the members of your health care team will have the education, training, knowledge, skill, and background to make you better. The last thing you expect is that someone will make a mistake that leaves you worse off than before. Unfortunately, however, medical errors do occur. In fact, they now represent the third leading cause of death in the United States, outranking such things as strokes, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Medical mistakes can happen virtually anywhere, including the following:

•    Hospital
•    Clinic
•    Surgery center
•    Medical office
•    Nursing home
•    Pharmacy
•    Your own home if you have an in-home caregiver

An Ohio medical malpractice lawyer recently discussed common medical mistakes.

Common Medical Errors

Medical mistakes come in a variety of types, but some of the most common include:

•    Medication errors
•    Anesthesia errors
•    Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
•    Failure to timely treat
•    Inadequate monitoring after a procedure
•    Failure to properly follow-up after treatment
•    Hospital acquired infections
•    Failure to properly read x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, etc.
•    Failure to act on test results
•    Failure to take proper safety precautions
•    Technical medical errors such as equipment failure

Specifically, the following represent the most common types of medical errors and therefore of medical malpractice:

•    Birth injuries
•    Nursing home abuse and neglect
•    Leaving a foreign object in the patient’s body during surgery
•    Administering the wrong or inadequate anesthesia prior to and during surgery
•    Failing to properly treat in the emergency room or discharging a patient too soon
•    Pharmacy errors such as giving the wrong prescription to a patient or failing to sufficiently explain dosing times and amounts

Medication Errors

As you might expect, medication errors represent the number one type of medical mistakes. What may shock you, however, is that close to 1.3 million people per year become the victim of medication errors in the United States. Most such errors involve giving the wrong medication (16% of errors), giving the wrong dose of it (41% of errors), or choosing the wrong medication administration route (16% of errors). Senior citizens, those 60 years of age or older, face a particular risk for medication errors and account for approximately half of all U.S. medication errors.

Standard of Care

You may have never specifically thought about it, but your doctor, by law, owes you a duty of care. That standard of care, however, varies from specialty to specialty. For instance, the standard of care your surgeon owes you is considerably different than the one your primary care physician owes you.

Determining which standard of care your physician owed you always becomes of paramount importance if you become a victim of medical error and consequently file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Once you and your attorney have determined which standard of care your doctor was required to perform under, the next issue becomes determining if, how, and to what extent (s)he breached that standard. Here you undoubtedly will need to rely on the testimony of your expert witnesses. Keep in mind, however, that any expert witness your attorney calls to the stand must be thoroughly familiar with the defendant’s standard of care and himself or herself be a physician who likewise practices under it. In other words, you cannot use a surgeon as an expert witness if you are suing an emergency room physician.

Even if you can prove that the defendant gave you substandard care by falling below the standard to which the law holds him or her, you must also prove that the physician’s breach of his or her duty of care was the proximate cause of your injury. Proximate cause is a legal term that means actual cause; i.e., one sufficient to support liability. The more direct and necessary your physician’s negligent action was for the injury you suffered to have occurred, the better chance you have of proving proximate cause.

This is a guest blog entry.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments are welcome.