When faced with a potential medical malpractice matter, it should be understood that errors while made hospital staff are often traced back to the business: the hospital. Like any business hospitals and medical facilities strive to be profitable, which can often lead to under-staffing and inadequate hiring resulting in a serious mistake. When a person suffers harm at the hands of medical professionals, whether due to negligence, error, or some other act of malpractice, the hospital in which the person received the care may be held liable for any losses or suffering endured by the patient in a hospital negligence lawsuit. Hospitals are meant to serve the needs of their patients and keep them safe; but, oftentimes, patient safety is compromised because a hospital fails to take the steps necessary to prevent medical errors and negligence.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a hospital setting due to a medical error, negligence or some other form of medical malpractice, please contact our qualified attorneys to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Please read on to learn about specific types of hospital negligence, including types of medical errors, nurse malpractice and emergency room malpractice. You can also click on the following to learn more about these types of medical negligence: medication error, surgical error, and birth injury.
In addition to providing important information about hospital negligence, this page will also provide essential facts about medical malpractice lawsuits and the legal rights of victims.
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According to a famous study conducted by the government’s Institute of Medicine, 98,000 people die every year due to preventable medical errors in hospitals. Furthermore, research suggests that 15 million incidents of preventable medical error occur annually in the United States. Medical error is the 6th leading cause of death, killing more people annually than diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and pneumonia.
Medical error is the “cousin” of medical negligence, which involves a medical professional’s failure to act in meeting professional standards. A medical error is defined as a mistake made by a health care professional, which can result in injury or death to the patient.
While some interest groups would have Americans believe that too many lawsuits are filed alleging medical error, in truth, the numbers show that most negligence lawsuits involve medical error that resulted in serious injury to the patient.
Some examples of medical errors include:
- Using unsterilized, defective, or improper equipment
- Administering the wrong type or dose of a medication
- Surgical mistake, including wrong site surgery, leaving medical instruments behind during a procedure, cutting of unintended tissues, and more
- Improperly interpreting test and lab results
- Making the wrong diagnosis or treating the condition inappropriately
Hospitals can be held liable for any type of medical error that occurs within their facilities or as a result of their medical professional staff’s actions or negligence. Please contact us to learn more about medical errors and your legal rights.
Nurse Malpractice and Negligence
Nurse malpractice is one area of hospital negligence for which both the nurse(s) and hospital can be held liable. In a hospital setting, it is often the nurses who have the most frequent contact with patients. They come in routinely to check-in on patients, feed them, administer medications and other treatments, take x-rays and perform other tests, and much more. Most of the time nurses are the ones making patients comfortable and helping in the recovery. However, when a nurse makes a medical error or fails to act in a way that prevents harm to a patient, the hospital can be held responsible for any subsequent damages to patients.
Examples of common nursing mistakes and negligence include:
- Giving the wrong type of food or drink to a patient
- Giving the wrong type of medication or the wrong dose
- Failing to communicate new patient symptoms, complaints, or concerns to doctors and other medical professionals
- Failure to keep proper records
- Failing to take sanitary precautions
If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of a nurse’s mistake or negligence, please contact us to speak with a qualified attorney who can evaluate your case to determine the best way to help.
Emergency Room Malpractice and Negligence
Emergency rooms are an area of the hospital where situations are urgent and change quickly. The proper care and attention at the right time is crucial to the recovery—and even survival—of many people who visit the ER. It is the responsibility of the hospital and its medical staff to provide such care, and to staff their emergency rooms to help those in need.
Unfortunately, because they are fast-paced, high-stress, crisis-management environments, emergency rooms often have higher-than-average rates of medical error and negligence. Furthermore, given the nature of patient injury and illness requiring emergency room care, medical mistakes and failures in this area tend to cause serious injury and death.
Common examples of emergency room malpractice and negligence include:
- Failure to make a proper and prompt diagnosis of a patient
- Failure to conduct, evaluate, and follow-up on tests and procedures
- Failure to recommend and perform the proper treatment at the right time
- Administering the wrong medication, wrong type or wrong dose
- Failure to attend to patient in a timely manner (often via triage)
If you or a loved one has suffered harm related to emergency room care, please don’t hesitate to contact our attorneys who can provide a free no-obligation consultation during which you can learn more about your legal rights and options. You may also reach us by phone at 800-400-8182.
Please read on to learn more about hospital negligence legal cases and your legal rights.
Hospital Negligence and The Law
With regard to medical malpractice claims, the civil justice system provides two invaluable benefits to society. One, it allows citizens the constitutional right to seek damages for the losses and suffering they’ve endured as a result of medical errors and negligence. Second, it encourages hospitals to take greater measures to protect patients; thus, potentially preventing medical errors and malpractice before they have a chance to take place.
The Harvard Study on Hospital Negligence and Related Lawsuits
Though some people claim the legal system is flooded with so-called frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits, the evidence simply does not support this notion. A 2006 Harvard study found that most hospital negligence claims did involve serious injury or death caused by medical error and malpractice. In fact, of all medical malpractice claims, 97 percent involved a legitimate medical injury, with 80 percent of those involving major disability or death.
Co-author of the study, William Sage of Harvard, stated that, “the major problem out there is medical errors that are not compensated, rather than frivolous claims that are compensated.” Indeed, it is a fact that far more people suffer serious medical injury and never receive the compensation they deserve than there are people who make false claims against hospitals and medical professionals.
Our system was established so that people could get the compensation to which they are entitled when a medical error or negligence has caused them harm.
Hospital negligence lawsuits protect the public
In addition to helping individuals and families who are harmed, medical malpractice lawsuits work to protect all people who seek medical care. Numerous studies have shown that the more accountable the medical profession, the greater the quality of health care and patient safety.
For example, a study conducted at Tulane University found that states that require greater accountability from their medical institutions and professionals have a lower rate of mortality related to health care.
In addition to encouraging greater quality of health care, medical malpractice lawsuits also provide a means of discipline that other methods fail to do; they fill a gap left by inadequate professional disciplinary action and hospital policy. In the former case, state medical boards are charged with the duty of taking disciplinary action against medical professionals and hospitals that consistently violate medical standards of care. However, evidence reveals less than 9 percent of doctors who settle numerous cases of medical malpractice are ever subject to disciplinary action brought by the state board. This regulatory body often fails to hold negligent or careless medical professionals responsible for their mistakes and failures.
Furthermore, hospitals are neglecting to take action that will prevent medical mistakes and malpractice. While hospitals are required to review medical care through numerous processes, nearly half of all US hospitals have never reported a single disciplinary action against one of their doctors. Put this statistic aside the evidence that 15 million incidents of medical malpractice occur every year, and it is clear that hospitals are neglecting their duty to discipline medical professionals who do harm to patients.
Do medical malpractice claims hurt the medical profession?
Some people would like the public to believe that medical malpractice claims are hurting the medical profession, costing them millions, causing doctors to flee the practice, and harming patients. Let’s look at the evidence.
In truth, medical malpractice affects a very small percentage of the health care industry. According to the Congressional Budget Office, medical malpractice expenses equal less than 2 percent of all health care spending. Furthermore, medical insurance premium increases are not affected nearly as much by medical malpractice claims as they are by a greedy insurance industry, which raises premiums to garner profit at the expense of the medical community and their patients. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, medical malpractice payments by doctors are not the cause of increased insurance premiums.
Furthermore, doctors are not fleeing the profession because of medical malpractice concerns. In fact, the number of doctors practicing in 2007 increased by 20 percent from the year prior.
Patient’s Legal Rights to a Medical Malpractice Claim
Citizens have a constitutional right to seek compensation when they suffer harm at the hands of hospitals or medical professionals. In addition to protecting other patients from subsequent harm, medical malpractice lawsuits can help victims and their families seek compensation for:
- Loss of wages and reduced earning potential
- Medical care costs
- Out of pocket expenses
- Quality of life
- Loss of a child, spouse or other loved one
- Loss of fertility
- Loss of limb or sight
- And more related damages
The first step in protecting your legal rights is to seek the qualified counsel of an experienced attorney who handles cases of medical and hospital malpractice. Our qualified attorneys can sit down with you to discuss your questions and concerns and determine your best course of action. Please contact us today by calling 800-400-8182.