The professionals working at a medical facility, from the phlebotomist drawing your blood to the radiologist performing an x-ray, have to obtain specialized education and frequently need to maintain state licensing. You expect them to behave in a professional manner and to treat you competently and with dignity.
Although you put a lot of faith in the professionals providing your health care, the sad truth is that not everyone receives the same standard of care. Medical professionals can fail to diagnose an obvious issue or can make mistakes while providing treatment that results in a negative outcome for the patient.
While you might think that medical malpractice is incredibly rare, statistics show that it is actually a very common issue affecting the health of thousands of Americans each year. How often do medical mistakes occur?
Medical malpractice is a leading cause of death
It is hard to track medical malpractice, as doctors can make mistakes that others never notice, even after a patient dies. However, researchers estimate that at least 250,000 people die because of medical mistakes each year, making it the third most common cause of death, other than cancer and heart disease. Mistakes when diagnosing and treating patients, as well as mistakes with drug administration, lead to thousands of preventable annual deaths.
It only takes a second for the frustrated family member of one patient to distract a nurse distributing medications by making demands or asking questions. The nurse, trying to split their attention between a person asking specific questions and a time-sensitive task, could hand out the wrong medication to someone. A surgeon performing a routine procedure behind the piece of gauze that causes a massive secondary infection and requires ongoing care or a revision surgery.
Some medical mistakes occur due to unpredictable and uncontrollable factors, and others occur because of negligence, distraction or mistakes in judgment. Regardless of the cause for medical care can lead to injuries, expensive hospital bills, lost wages and even someone’s death. Those affected by negligence or substandard care may have the right to file a medical malpractice claim.
Learning more about the surprisingly common issue of medical malpractice can help patients and their family members seek justice after a major medical mistake leads to injury.