What could be worse than receiving a diagnosis for a serious illness? We can think of a couple. Receiving a diagnosis for a serious illness and then being mistreated by your medical care provider for that illness or a hospital error that led to preventable death are at the top of the list.
Medical malpractice is defined as a breach in the standard of care for a physician or other health care professional that results in injury or illness to a patient. Medical malpractice can be a consequence of mistakes in diagnosis, treatment, or management.
Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a recent article published in The Washington Post. Horror stories of nurses giving potent drugs meant for one patient to another and surgeons removing wrong body parts are making their way to news coverage and the public.
The facts about diagnostic errors are very dark. A new study by patient safety researchers, recently published on BMJ, shows that “medical errors” in hospitals and other health care facilities are incredibly common — claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s. To further put this into perspective, that means that more people die from medical errors every year than die from breast cancer, prostate cancer and drunk driving combined.
Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained in a recent interview explained that medical errors include everything from bad doctors to more systemic issues such as communication breakdowns when patients are handed off from one department to another.
With the calculation of 251,000 deaths of year equating to nearly 700 deaths a day — about 9.5 percent of all deaths annually in the United States, what is being done to prevent and fight this shockingly growing number?
The answer? Not much.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require reporting of errors in the data it collects about deaths through billing codes, making it hard to see what’s going on a national level.
One study found that, between 1991 and 2005, 5.9% of all doctors were responsible for 57.8% of all malpractice payments. Given that each of these doctors had committed at least two acts of malpractice, this evidence clearly indicates the importance of going after the few deeply incompetent doctors that are responsible for the majority of medical negligence.
To make matters worse, only 8% of these doctors who made multiple (over 2) malpractice payouts were disciplined by state medical boards. Only 17% of doctors with more than 5 malpractice payouts were disciplined.
“The CDC Should update its vital statistics reporting requirements to that physicians must report whether there was any error that led to a preventable death,” Makary said.
Furthermore, a Harvard School of Public Health study examining over 1,400 medical negligence claims found that 97% of the claims had merit and 80% of the malpractice referenced by the claims resulted in serious injury or death.
The striking majority of all medical malpractice results from preventable human error.
What should you do if you think you’ve been the victim of medical negligence? First, get a second opinion from another health care provider right away to make sure that any treatment your current provider has been administering does not immediately jeopardize your health or safety. Once you’re found yourself in better hands, call Zarzaur Law of Pensacola and Destin, Florida.
If you’re unsure your case qualifies under the definition of medical malpractice — contact Zarzaur Law. We are a highly experienced Pensacola, FL medical malpractice team that can help uncover the extent of your medical malpractice claim and get the justice you deserve against the parties at fault. Not only do you owe this to yourself, but you also owe it to any other patients who might be hurt by the responsible doctors (who are statistically likely to be repeat offenders).
There are strict and statutes of limitations for filing medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida, so it is important to take action as soon as possible to protect your rights. Call us for a free consultation.