Legal Articles

June 16, 2011

Medical Malpractice

Patient X goes into the operating room for surgery on his right knee. He wakes up from anesthesia with a bandaged left knee. He is stunned and outraged -- the surgeon operated on the wrong leg.

This is not an urban legend. Common medical mistakes and surgical errors like leaving surgical sponges and instruments in the patient’s body, incorrect diagnosis, medication errors, anesthesia mistakes, post-surgical infections and more comprise the list of serious and sometimes deadly medical mistakes happening every day across the country.

Even less dramatic medical errors or delays in diagnosis can mean the patient is not receiving the appropriate treatment they need, wasting precious time that could have been used to properly treat the patient.

Medical malpractice occurs when the medical care deviates from accepted standards of practice, either by an act or omission by a health care provider, and causes injury or death to the patient. In such cases, the medical professional or the medical facility may be liable for resulting damages.

The Institute of Medicine estimates that medical mistakes are responsible for at least 98,000 patient deaths every year in the United States. Other sources report the number ranges from 44,000 to as high as 145,000. In any case, if medical mistakes were counted among the leading cause of death in the U.S., they would rank in the top ten.

Across the board, hospitals, physicians, health care providers, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies and the Food and Drug Administration are making efforts to reduce medical errors, but more diligence is needed to insure consumer safety.

As a patient, you are responsible for being as knowledgeable as possible about your medical condition, the medications you are taking, possible treatment options and choosing the best health care provider available.

If the worst case scenario occurs and you believe you or a family member have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, please contact our office to discuss investigation and pursuit of a medical malpractice claim.

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