Medical malpractice is caused by the failure of a doctor, health care professional, health care facility, hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation facility, medical testing facility or clinic, to meet the standard of what constitutes good medical practice in the areas in which the medical professional or facility specialize. Failing to meet good medical standards may cause harm to the patient, medical professional or facility. These actions could also causea liability for resulting damages and injuries. In some cases, this can result in lifelong medical expenses, loss of income, or even death.
But data shows that the public is uncertain about this topic, particularly about its prevalence. In a 2004 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, more than half of the respondents (57%) indicated that they were not sure what the term "medical error" meant or they said they had never heard the term before. When asked how many Americans die each year as a result of preventable medical errors, nearly half of the respondents (49%) thought it was fewer than 5,000 deaths, 18% put the number at about 50,000, and 14% thought more than 100,000 die annually because of medical errors. In fact, over 225,000 people die annually due to medical malpractice; nearly half of the deaths occurring in hospital emergency rooms, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Medical malpractice has become the third leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer. A Harvard Medical School study found that over 5% of all hospital patients were injured due to medical malpractice.
Examples of medical malpractice include:
- Surgical errors
- Birth injuries
- Medication errors
- Failure to diagnose
- Cosmetic surgery errors
This is not an exhaustive list, but it does provide a glimpse at the diversity of cases our medical malpractice lawyers have handled.
The Harvard Medical Practice Study found, though, that only one in eight patients who suffers due to medical malpractice ever files a lawsuit, and concluded that medical malpractice is not accessible enough for many victims, including instances where a child has suffered birth injuries and will need lifelong special care and accommodations. National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has been successful in representing medical malpractice victims and obtaining compensation for them. An experienced attorney can help to evaluate the claim, assemble the necessary documentation, and advocate for the injured person.
To avoid being a victim of medical negligence, experts advise patients to do research to gain an understanding of their health condition and possible treatments and their risks. Patients should document their symptoms and describe them fully to the doctor. When seeing a doctor, a patient should have a list of questions and the doctor should provide full and detailed answers. Patients should not allow themselves to be intimidated by the medical system and should speak up if they sense something is wrong. It is advisable to have a family member or friend come along on important visits to help absorb and understand complex and sometimes troubling information.
Parker Waichman LLPA National Law Firm with offices in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Florida.
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