Medical negligence is also known as medical malpractice. Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment by a healthcare provider is considered medical negligence. Physicians, dentists, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, hospitals and medical corporations are all subject to medical negligence claims.
Determining Medical Negligence
Hospitals are expected to uphold a high standard of care for patients. Whenever a patient seeks medical attention, there exists an inherent risk of injury or failure to heal the initial affliction. It is only when errors, negligent behavior, or incompetence on the part of medical professionals cause injury or death that medical negligence has occurred.
Medical negligence is determined by the following aspects:
- Healthcare provider failed to conform to standard procedure
- Individual was injured or died
- Injury or death was caused by the substandard practice
A fourth aspect exists to proving medical negligence: a duty owed. The healthcare provider legally assumes the duty when consent is given to treat the individual. The patient relies upon the healthcare provider to use sound judgment in determining and implementing care. The burden of proof of medical negligence lies upon the individual affected.
Causes of Medical Negligence
Medical negligence occurs more often in health care institutions that have higher patient to staff ratios. Physicians that have been faced with negligence charges state burnout as the primary reason for medical negligence. Depression among physicians, especially surgeons, is also cited as a contributing factor to medical negligence. Doctors claim that errors are the most common type of medical negligence that occurs as a result of burnout.
Types of Medical Negligence
There are many different types of medical negligence. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition is one of the most common forms of medical negligence. It can be difficult to diagnose medical conditions, so not all cases of misdiagnosis are considered medical negligence. Opinions of professionals other than the physician on trial are often used to determine whether a misdiagnosis was a legitimate difficult case to diagnose, or a case of medical negligence.
Medical negligence includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Unnecessary surgery
- Surgical errors or wrong site surgery
- Improper medication or dosage
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
- Failure to order proper testing
Statistics Concerning Medical Negligence
Between 15,000 to 19,000 medical negligence cases are filed against physicians each year in the United States. About seventy- three percent of the cases that are settled each year are due to error. Cases without evidence of error have smaller settlements, and many are denied compensation.
A 2004 study of medical negligence claims in the United States observing primary care malpractice found that though incidence of negligence in live-in hospital situations produced a greater proportion of severe outcomes, the total number of errors and deaths due to errors were greater for outpatient settings. A 2010 investigation by the Office of Inspector General determined that there were 180,000 deaths a year among Medicare patients, forty-four percent of which were avoidable.
Incidence of False Medical Negligence Claims
Medical negligence is actually rarely present in most alleged cases of medical malpractice. In one study in New York, adverse events were reported in about four percent of all hospitalizations. In over seventy percent of these cases, however, no medical negligence was present. In another closed claim study performed at Harvard, only fifteen percent of medical malpractice cases actually contained medical negligence. In a 2005 Congressional Report, over eighty percent of malpractice cases reviewed actually contained no medical negligence.
Orlando Medical Negligence Lawyers
If a patient is injured or dies in due to an instance of medical negligence, an attorney should be contacted as soon as possible. All states have a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after an incident medical negligence has occurred. This is because it becomes much more difficult to acquire details about a specific medical procedure as time passes and medical records are updated. In Florida, the statute of limitations is two years.
“Negligence, genuine error, and litigation.” PMC US National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Feb 2013. Web. 25 Sep 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576054/>.
Shanafelt, Tait, and Charles Balch. “Burnout and Medical Errors Among American Surgeons.” Annals of Surgery. Annals of Surgery, n.d. Web. 25 Sep 2013. <https://ps.mcic.com/appdocs/lps/Burnout and medical errors among American Surgeons.pdf>.
“What is Medical Malpractice?” Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 13 Jul 2013. Web. 25 Sep 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248175.php>.