We rely on our doctors to help keep us healthy, cure our illnesses and treat our injuries. If a visit to the emergency room or a hospital stay is necessary, we assume the care we receive meets the highest medical and safety standards. We certainly do not expect to end up in worse condition than before we sought treatment. Unfortunately, these expectations are not always fulfilled.
In fact, according to a study at Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical malpractice is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind cancer and heart disease, killing at least 250,000 people each year. What’s more, because negligence is not typically documented on death certificates, experts believe this is a conservative estimate. To commemorate national Medical Malpractice Awareness Month, here is an overview of the most recent medical malpractice statistics.
Simply put, medical malpractice is defined as any action or failure to act that causes harm or injury to a patient. To prove malpractice, the victim must prove a physician was negligent, and that the negligence caused harm.
Four legal elements must exist in order for a medical malpractice case to move forward:
In most medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must establish that the physician failed to adhere to the accepted norms that other doctors in the same locale and area of specialization would follow in a similar situation. This usually entails extensive documentation and expert witness testimony from other physicians and/or medical experts.
Surgeons are sued for malpractice more often than doctors in other specialties. According to statistics from the 2019 Medscape Malpractice Report, here are the top ten specialties most often accused of medical malpractice.
While physicians are the most common defendants in malpractice lawsuits, other kinds of medical practitioners may also be held responsible. Here is a list, in descending order, from the National Practitioner Data Bank:
In addition, victims may also file claims against hospitals or other medical facilities for negligence that resulted in harm.
Breast cancer, colon cancer and cervical cancer are frequently misdiagnosed or missed, in addition to pancreatic cancer, mesothelioma and lung cancer, which is often mistaken for tuberculosis (TB) or other respiratory illnesses.
Strep or staph infections are often missed by doctors, which may cause them to spread and lead to serious or permanent damage
Some heart attacks are misdiagnosed because they are not accompanied by severe chest pain or other common signs. This is especially true for women, whose symptoms are often less obvious.
Some doctors may dismiss symptoms such as shortness of breath without doing a thorough work-up, which can lead to serious illness or even death if heart disease is present.
If you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice, we can help. Our knowledgeable legal team knows what it takes to hold the responsible parties accountable and win the compensation you and your family deserve. There are strict filing deadlines for medical malpractice cases, so it’s important to contact us immediately.
Medical malpractice law is complicated, but finding the right medical malpractice lawyer is simple.
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