I know what it’s like to spend long, restless nights in a hospital with a loved one waiting and hoping for things to get better. You are constantly assured that the doctors and staff are doing everything they can for them and you trust the medical providers to provide the best possible care. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. More than 100,000 Americans die every year as a result of preventable medical errors and another 300,000 survive but are left with injuries or permanent impacts to their health. It’s frightening to know that 18% of the people who are hospitalized are victims of medical error, malpractice and negligence.
Patients’ rights diminished by legislation
Every year, the health care industry lobbies Congress to restrict victim’s rights to sue for compensation for medical errors. You hear all the time that malpractice lawsuits are out of control and must be stopped. This is simply not true. Compared to the 400,000 cases of medical malpractice that are reported each year (and there are likely many thousands of cases that go unreported) the number of lawsuits filed is minimal. Law professor Tom Baker of the University of Pennsylvania says, “We have an epidemic of medical malpractice, not of malpractice lawsuits.”
One piece of legislation that was passed to protect doctors rather than patients that are subjected to devastating medical errors is MICRA (Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act). And what’s worse is that malpractice is on the rise! RAND (Research and Development Corporation) reports that the number of healthcare providers avoiding responsibility for their mistakes has dropped while the number of injuries and deaths from malpractice are on the rise. How is that possible?
Scary medical error statistics
Here are some sobering figures on how many reported mistakes are committed by healthcare providers we should be able to trust. Bear in mind, that for every reported error, there are likely several more that go unremarked because the patient passed away, didn’t know they should report it or were actively encouraged not to report!
- Medical errors kill: Preventable medical errors are the 6th leading cause of death in America. Medical mistakes, negligence and malpractice kill more of us than diabetes or Alzheimer’s. With most medical errors known to be preventable and so many lives at stake, this is simply shocking.
- Medical errors injure: Each year, more than 180,000 patients are severely injured as a result of medical negligence. What’s worse is that once a mistake is noticed, rather than trying to make it right and preserve the health of the victim, more energy is often devoted to concealing the mistake or shirking blame.
- Medical errors are on the rise: Each year, more than 15 million patients are harmed as a result of inadequate care, misdiagnosis, failure to treat, faulty treatment, medication errors and a host of other preventable mistakes. Rather than devoting itself to lobbying to avoid litigation, shouldn’t the healthcare industry be focused on quality control?
- Surgical errors are rampant: Every week (yes I said week!) there are 40 wrong site, wrong side or wrong patient surgical procedures. There have been reported cases where a healthy kidney was removed rather than a diseased one, the wrong limb amputated and other surgical nightmares that leave patients with horrifying results.
- Poorer and older patients are more at risk: For those that rely on Medicare or Medicaid for their medical insurance needs, there is a much higher patient safety accident risk. These patients have a 20% chance of dying and a 14% chance of being injured while seeking medical care under these coverage programs.
Why you need a lawyer after suffering a medical error
A close friend of mine went to an urgent care facility for back pain and was diagnosed with a kidney stone. He was refused antibiotics when he requested them and told he would be notified if his test results showed an infection. After a week of intensifying pain and no call, his wife took him back to urgent care. By then, his kidney infection that had gone misdiagnosed was raging. When the medical staff realized they had not followed up on lab reports indicating the infection, they panicked and pushed fluids too fast which caused pulmonary edema. By the time they realized they had made this additional error, it was almost too late.
An ambulance ride to the ER and several weeks in ICU saved his life – but just barely. This 43 year old man who had been an avid biker and active dad now struggles to take a walk around the block because of the permanent damage to his heart and lungs the efforts to revive him took on his health. He will never be the same and is lucky to be alive. To add insult to injury (literally) while he was still in the ICU, medical bills started arriving from the facility that had nearly killed him. Next came the collection calls. This was when he knew he needed an attorney.
It’s important that if you were the victim of medical malpractice that you hold the responsible parties accountable. This is important for several reasons. The first is financial – you should not have to pay any out of pocket costs for sub-standard healthcare that injured you. This is simply outrageous. Even if you have insurance coverage, most plans now have co-insurance for hospital stays, co-pays and other costs you have to pay personally.
Second is that you may likely have lost time from work and may lose more in the future and these amounts should be compensated since you wouldn’t have lost wages if not for the medical errors. Finally, holding sloppy surgeons and negligent healthcare providers liable should encourage them to be more careful in the future. It may be too late to prevent your injury, but you may save someone else’s life by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit! Contact Nelson Barry today for a free consultation on your medical malpractice case – we’re ready to help.