Medical negligence and malpractice can certainly have fatal ramifications. Every year, people pass away due to medical mistakes. These happen in doctor’s offices, nursing homes, hospitals, emergency rooms and elsewhere. How often fatal medical malpractice occurs is a bit of a debate. There are some reports that claim it is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, leading to more than 250,000 annual fatalities. This would place medical malpractice behind only heart disease and cancer on the list of top reasons for fatalities in America.
But there are critics of these reports. They claim that the real number is much smaller. The main issue they cite is that the most reputable report on this subject extrapolated data from a smaller sample set, rather than looking at overall data. They say the extrapolation doesn’t work and that medical malpractice result in fatalities far less often.
What are some examples of medical malpractice?
Regardless of who is right in this debate, it’s clear that medical malpractice is far more common – and more often deadly – than a lot of people assume. Some of the most common medical errors that result in fatal consequences include:
- Surgical errors: Surgical malpractice can include mistakes like leaving surgical instruments inside a patient, operating on the wrong body part or damaging surrounding tissues.
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: If a doctor fails to diagnose a medical condition correctly or delays the diagnosis, the patient’s condition may worsen. For instance, if a physician misdiagnoses cancer as a benign condition, the patient may not receive timely treatment.
- Medication errors: Errors can take many forms. A doctor needs to consider how two drugs interact, for instance, which could be dangerous. Dosage errors, whether too much or too little, are also common.
- Anesthesia errors: Common issues include administering too little anesthesia or too much, which could be fatal.
- Inadequate follow-up care: After a medical procedure or treatment, healthcare providers have a responsibility to monitor the patient, consider their symptoms and provide appropriate follow-up care while they recover.
- Radiology and lab errors: Misinterpretation of X-rays, MRI scans, or other diagnostic tests can lead to incorrect diagnoses and treatment plans.
- Inadequate infection control: Hospitals and healthcare need infection control measures. Failure to do so can lead to healthcare-associated infections, some of which may be worse than the initial condition the patient came to the medical center to treat.
Of course, not every adverse outcome in healthcare is a result of malpractice. The key question that drives the legal actionability of medical negligence cases is whether or not a medical professional offered the accepted standard of care before the patient in question sustained harm or otherwise experienced an adverse outcome. Those who wonder whether they may have grounds upon which to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit can benefit from seeking personalized legal guidance accordingly.
In 2023 alone, Dunn Harrington Trial Lawyers settled over $6 million in medical malpractice lawsuits for victims and their families. Contact us online or at 872-282-4603 to see how we may be able to help you.