Patients often trust that doctors know best – particularly here in the United States, where many hospitals and clinics have access to advanced technology and highly-qualified medical professionals. However, this trust may not always be well-placed, given that medical errors are currently the 3rd leading cause of death among American adults.
At Zayas Law Firm, our Hartford medical malpractice lawyers have over 35 years of combined legal experience, and we always strive to secure maximum compensation for those who have been injured by a negligent physician. We know that it can be difficult to identify when you’ve suffered from an avoidable medical error, let alone stand up against the resources of a major healthcare provider. That’s why our team is here to stand by your side and ensure that you can seek justice.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss the most common situations where medical errors may occur, and review how you can take decisive legal action.
Understanding the Most Common Medical Errors
Although it may seem surprising, preventable medical errors have always been present within the American healthcare system. The main difference is that we now have access to more comprehensive data and accurate reporting about the problem’s scope. When the Institute of Medicine first published their groundbreaking patient safety report “To Err Is Human” back in 2000, it was estimated that 100,000 people died each year from avoidable physician errors. Today, that total is estimated to be more than 250,000 accidental patient deaths per year.
Of course, it can be difficult to define what a medical error looks like in practice, especially because hospitals are reluctant to admit any mistakes on the part of physicians and nurses. Because the CDC also relies heavily on the use of special death codes from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the agency does not include medical error in their annual reports – which in turn allows legislators and voters to continue overlooking the issue.
Here are a few of the most commonly reported medical errors, and how you may be able to identify them:
- Failing to diagnose a life-threatening condition. Misdiagnosis is one of the most common sources of medical error, but it’s also one of the most difficult to discover, especially if you don’t have a medical background. When your doctor causes you to sustain serious injuries after a misdiagnosis, they could be liable to cover the costs of those injuries.
- Prescribing the wrong medication. In a busy hospital setting, it can be easy for nurses and physicians to mix up patient charts, or miss crucial notes about patient allergies and reactions. Whether you were prescribed a defective drug or simply given the wrong medication, this kind of mistake can have immediate and even fatal consequences.
- Allowing for hospital-acquired infections. Up to 500,000 patients may fall ill from hospital-acquired infections every year, with even more accidents caused by defective medical devices like hip implants or pacemakers.
- Failing to check on bedridden patients. When a patient is bedridden, they face the risk of developing severe pressure sores and IV infections should the attending physician fail to notice these issues. While not necessarily life-threatening on their own, even bed sores can eventually progress into septicemia and other dangerous conditions.
- Performing unnecessary procedures. One study published in the Healthcare Economist last year found that the U.S. spends over $700 billon on unnecessary medical testing, from CT and MRI scans that carry a cancer risk to additional blood draws that cause infection. If you become sick after undergoing a long series of medical procedures or tests, one of them could be at fault for your infection or injury.
- Causing “never events.” We’ve all heard horror stories where doctors forgot to remove sponges and surgical instruments while operating on a patient. Sadly, these so-called “never events” happen a lot more frequently than most patients realize. If your symptoms change and worsen significantly after surgery, you may have suffered from a never event.
Seeking Compensation After a Medical Error
Once you realize that you’ve fallen victim to a major medical error, the law does allow you to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit and hold the negligent physician or hospital accountable. Because demonstrating irrefutable evidence of a medical error can be so difficult, it’s even more important that you hire the right attorney in cases like these.
At the Zayas Law Firm, we’ve successfully helped many clients prove that they were injured because of a medical error, because we understand the science behind these mistakes. Skilled at making complex medical terms easy for juries to understand, we have the knowledge and the experience to take your case all the way to trial. We’re also passionate about helping our clients recover fair compensation for injuries, and we won’t charge you until we can win your case.
Call (860) 278-0820 today to speak with a member of our Hartford legal team!