What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical negligence, or medical malpractice, is negligence committed by healthcare professionals. Negligence is the failure to live up to a duty of care. That failure causes harm to someone that would not have happened if someone had upheld their duty. Medical malpractice is the failure to uphold a standard of care that is a health professional’s duty to meet when treating patients.
Is Medical Malpractice That Big of a Problem?
While popular culture may have us all thinking that medical malpractice is a rare event but overrepresented in civil courts, consider the following:
- A recent study by Johns Hopkins Medicine indicates that medical errors rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. The Johns Hopkins study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors.
- The National Institute of Health in a recent study revealed that adverse drug events alone account for more than 3.5 million physician office visits and 1 million emergency department visits each year.
- It’s estimated that preventable medication errors impact more than 7 million patients and costs almost $21 billion annually.
- According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, medication mishaps can occur anywhere in the distribution system (prescribing, repackaging, dispensing, administering, labeling, and monitoring). Factors that contribute to the increase in medication mishaps include the decreasing frequency of pill bottle reviews, insufficient patient education, and poor communication between healthcare providers.
Yet, of all cases filed in civil courts across America, less than 5% of them are for medical malpractice.
How Can Medical Negligence Affect Someone?
Medical mistakes can be anything from a minor harm to a catastrophic injury or even death. Here are some of the more common types of medical malpractice and medical mistakes are:
- Birth injuries;
- Failure to diagnose/misdiagnosis;
- Mislabeling or misuse of prescription drugs;
- Failure to obtain informed consent;
- A surgical error during an operation.
Is My Injury the Result of Medical Malpractice?
The short answer to that is it depends. Every injury caused by or due to a medical professional’s or facilities actions is different. Medical malpractice can be difficult to prove and often requires extensive time, research, and expense.
First, it has to be determined whether the medical professional or facility failed to meet the applicable standard of care. The standard of care is what a reasonably prudent physician or medical facility would have done in the circumstances. It may be malpractice if there was a failure meet the standard of care. For example, it’s the standard of care to treat deep lacerations with stitches or glue rather than band-aids.
However, just what is the standard of care for most other procedures is usually proven through testimony from another medical professional that was not present when the injury happened. If you can prove that the medical professional or facility’s treatment fell below the standard of care, you still need to prove that this caused or aggravated your injury or recovery AND that you suffered damages as a result.
For over 30 years, Kidneigh & Kaufman has been handling medical malpractice cases, including trial and appeals. If you, a family member, or a friend have had the misfortune of suffering an injury from a medical mistake or medical malpractice, our lawyers want to help you. The attorneys at Kidneigh & Kaufman, P.C. are experienced medical malpractice attorneys, know how to prove medical malpractice and obtain compensation for medical malpractice victims. Call Kidneigh & Kaufman 303-393-6666 today to schedule your free consultation.
 Vanessa McMains. Johns Hopkins study suggests medical errors are third-leading cause of death in U.S. https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/05/03/medical-errors-third-leading-cause-of-death/. (May 3, 2016).
 Brianna A. da Silva, MD* and Mahesh Krishnamurthy, MD, FACP, SFHM. The alarming reality of medication error: a patient case and review of Pennsylvania and National data. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC5016741/. (Sep. 7, 2016).
 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Medication Error Reports. https://www.fda.gov/Drugs /DrugSafety/MedicationErrors/ucm080629.htm. (Last updated Aug 2, 2017).
 Court Statistics Project. Caseload Highlights: Medical Malpractice Litigation
In State Courts. http://www.courtstatistics.org/~/media/Microsites/Files/CSP/Highlights /18_1_Medical_Malpractice_In_State_Courts.ashx. Vol. 18:1. Apr 2011.