When they are sick, injured, or simply checking up on their health, patients place their trust in the hands of doctors and other medical experts. But even experts can make mistakes. Research indicates that medical errors are a leading cause of death in the US, trailing closely behind heart disease and cancer. In the U.S., more than 400,000 Americans suffer wrongful deaths because of medical mistakes each year. A great many more are severely harmed by such accidents.
Unfortunately, many victims of medical malpractice neglect to report it. Why is it so important to report medical mistakes? Because when patients keep quiet about medical errors, they create a problem for themselves as well as others. When mishaps go unreported, negligent health care providers are not investigated or held responsible for their errors. And since their mistakes are never identified and corrected, they may continue to make these errors again and again with future patients.
Why Patients Don’t Report Mistakes
Patients neglect to report medical errors for many reasons. They may feel too frightened or apprehensive to complain, or they don’t understand how to go about it. Oftentimes, patients aren’t even sure whether they’ve suffered from a medical error due to someone’s negligence or not.
So the first thing that you have to do is determine whether or not you’ve been victimized by medical malpractice – that means understanding what that term actually means. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other medical technician makes an error that causes harm or injury. To make an error, medical professionals must either do something that causes a patient harm, or fail to act in a way that would prevent harm in a way that deviates from accepted medical principles.
To further clarify the matter, here are some examples of medical errors:
Failure to diagnose
By failing to diagnose illnesses like cancer or diabetes, medical professionals allow these dangerous diseases to go untreated and severely reduce chances for recovery. Professionals may fail to recognize these diseases if they are negligent when examining patients or when reading x-rays and mammograms.
When doctors, nurses, and pharmacy technicians prescribe improper medications, the patient may suffer the harmful consequences. Wrongfully prescribed medications can cause allergic reactions, overdoses, and other unwanted side effects. When pregnant, improper medications can harm the fetus.
If medical professionals provide negligent care—whether before, during, or after a baby’s birth—this can result in a birth injury. Negligent care can include incorrectly prescribing medicine, failing to administer a C-section, or improper delivery of the baby.
Ambulance negligence occurs when paramedic or EMT professionals fail to respond to emergencies in an appropriate, efficient, or timely manner. They may have failed to bring vital equipment and medicine, or may use these devices improperly. Failing to accurately record the incident is also an example of negligence.
Common examples of surgical negligence include leaving surgical tools or foreign objects inside the patient, or failing to identify and treat complications that arise during or after the surgery.
Occasionally, nurses and other medical caregivers become desensitized to patient alarm signals or calls for help. When this happens, they may fail to respond to the patient when immediate medical attention is needed.
A visit to the hospital can be a traumatizing event in its own right, and falling victim to a medical injury can cause further anxiety and long-term injury. If you believe you or someone you care about has suffered injury or wrongful death due to medical error, contact a personal injury attorney with experience in medical malpractice cases. A skilled lawyer can help you get the compensation for your undue suffering, while bringing attention to negligent practices and helping to prevent injury for future patients.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”-an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state-and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”