Errors and negligent actions made by medical professionals are the third leading cause of patient deaths in the United States.
Patients Face High Risks for Injury and Death
When illness, disease, or injury occurs, patients trust their physicians and specialists with medical treatments and procedures that will improve their health conditions. However, statistics show that 195,000 patients die in U.S.hospitals each year because of preventable medical mistakes.
Every year, errors made with patient diagnoses are responsible for 80,000 to 100,000 deaths. Between 1986 and 2010, approximately $38.8 billion was paid out for patient misdiagnosis alone through medical malpractice lawsuits filed by malpractice attorneys. On average, there are 15,000 to 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits filed each year in the United States.
The following are 5 less-known facts about medical malpractice:
1. The majority of medical malpractice cases are related to the misdiagnosis of an illness, disease, or injury.
2. Medical negligence can occur during a patient’s diagnosis, treatment plan, surgical procedure, prescribed medications, and follow-up care.
3. Some malpractice cases result from inappropriate or sexual misconduct by an attending physician, nurse, or caregiver.
4. One out of every three hospital patients will become a victim of a medical error during a hospital stay.
5. Many patients do not give their informed consent for treatments and procedures, because they are not properly notified of injury risks by physicians and specialists.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
When patients suffer harm due to medical errors and misconduct, patients are entitled to file medical malpractice lawsuits for compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, rehabilitation and therapy expenses, and pain and suffering.
For a lawsuit to be successful, a malpractice attorney must prove three important things in court: 1) there must be a physical or emotional injury caused by a medical professional; 2) there must be sufficient evidence that directly links the medical professional to the injury; 3) the injury victim’s attorney must prove a breach of duty causing a lack of proper medical care that another healthcare professional would have provided.
Medical malpractice cases that go to court take several years to resolve, the time depending on the complexity of the case. Medical malpractice cases are taken on a contingency basis, meaning the injury victim does not have to pay legal fees until the case is won by the malpractice attorney. In some cases, a settlement agreement is reached before a court trial, usually between the injury victim’s attorney and an insurance provider.