When doctors perform medical procedures or surgeons operate on patients and they do not have sufficient experience or skill in performing the procedures, bad outcomes due to substandard medical treatment may be the result. When poor technical skill or lack of experience results in injuries (or death) that would not have occurred but for medical negligence, medical malpractice claims are often the result.
Doctors seeking to increase their income by getting involved in providing the newest lucrative medical treatments/procedures that they have minimal training or experience in providing pose unnecessary danger to patients. For example, when the public became aware of the availability of bariatric surgery for the treatment of obesity, some enterprising general surgeons who had little if any experience in performing the challenging surgery attended short seminars or received other minimal training after which unknowing patients were exposed to a greater risk of a poor surgical outcome or unnecessary complications from bariatric surgery.
2. Unexpected Death
Many medical procedures and medical treatment regimens are associated with varying degrees of risk of death due to the nature of the treatment. However, the risk of death can be managed and minimized by insuring that medical providers take the necessary time and make the effort to obtain and review complete and thorough medical histories for their patients. Prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and even herbal products, supplements, and vitamins taken by patients can have a major impact on which medical treatments should be undertaken or avoided.
Perhaps the most shocking unexpected deaths occur during “routine surgery” for which the risk of death was supposedly very small. Medical malpractice that occurs during surgery is often hard to prove because the medically negligent surgeon usually will not admit to or volunteer information regarding surgical errors or mistakes that occurred during surgery, such as a vital organ or blood vessel being unexpectedly or mistakenly cut during surgery. Many times the medical records regarding the surgical procedure, which are written by the negligent surgeon, fail to reference the negligence that occurred. If an autopsy is not performed and the operating room staff fail to know or note in the medical records the surgical error that was made and caused the patient’s death, the patient’s family will often be misled or otherwise left in the dark regarding what really was the cause of the patient’s death.
3. Inadvertent Complications Or Adverse Effects, Wounds Unrelated To A Patient’s Primary Condition, Hospital-Acquired Infections, And Fractures
The CDC estimates that about 2 million people in the U.S. acquire infections while in the hospital each year, with about 90,000 of them dying as a result. Hospital infection rates can be reduced dramatically if all health care and other services providers in the hospital simply but adequately washed their hands each and every time before providing any care or patient services.
Some hospital patients suffer fractures or other injuries due to falls when try get out of bed on their own to use the bathroom but are too weak or are under the influence of powerful medications that make it dangerous for patients to not have assistance under such circumstances. All patients must be timely and adequately evaluated for their risk for falls and the proper fall precautions timely implemented and properly maintained.
4. Break Down In Communications
The care and services provided to patients in hospitals are segmented, compartmentalized, and necessarily provided by many different people whose scope of services provided and responsibilities in providing care and services are very limited as to each hospital patient. For example, many different attending physicians, medical residents, or medical interns may be responsible for prescribing medication for the patient: a surgical attending may prescribe medications related to the surgery, an intern or resident assigned to the patient’s floor may be responsible for prescribing medication for pain, an upset stomach, etc., and/or a psychiatrist called in for a patient consultation may be responsible to prescribe medication to treat the patient’s anxiety or depression, etc.
Once a physician determines to prescribe a medication, a medication order must be placed in the patient’s chart. The hospital’s pharmacy staff is then responsible to timely and properly fill the medication order. A medical technician or a nurse must then provide the patient with the appropriate medication at the appropriate time. If any of the various medical providers fail to timely and appropriately communicate with each other either in person or by timely and proper entries in the patient’s medical records, the break down in communication can be very detrimental to the patient’s well-being, causing additional injury or unnecessary pain and suffering.
Patients are more prone to file a medical malpractice claim against a medical provider if the medical provider fails to timely communicate with the patients regarding the cause of the patients’ unanticipated condition and what is being done in a timely fashion to address the patients’ concerns. Sometimes a simple but heart-felt apology for a medical mistake goes a long way in preventing a medical malpractice claim (patients who feel that their medical providers spend too little time with them, fail to listen to them, fail to acknowledge and address their concerns in a way they can understand, or fail to treat them with proper respect are more likely to seek compensation for their medical malpractice injuries).
5. Lies (Or What Appear To Be Lies)
Nothing attracts medical malpractice claims more than patients believing that they have been lied to regarding the medical care they received or failed to receive that they believe to be the cause of their injuries or other bad outcomes from medical treatment. Distrust is a very basic human feeling that can transform a patient who would never otherwise think about filing a medical malpractice claim against a health care provider into a very determined medical malpractice plaintiff who is vengeful; for these medical malpractice plaintiffs, no amount of money will satisfy their thirst for a pound of flesh from those they consider to be liars.
If you or a family member may be the victim of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly seek the advice of a local medical malpractice attorney to learn about your rights and responsibilities in bringing a medical malpractice claim.
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