Almost a quarter of a million patients across the US die every year due to medical mistakes. Whether it’s a wrong diagnosis, an undetected infection, being given the wrong prescription, or errors during surgery, most, if not all, of these 200,000 deaths are preventable. Medical negligence is the third most common cause of death in the United States – only cancer and heart disease rank higher**. Thanks to medical malpractice attorneys, over $3bn was paid out in 2012 – that’s one compensation award every 43 minutes.
What exactly is medical negligence?
Medical negligence, or malpractice, happens when a licensed health care provider fails to deliver the accepted standard of treatment, resulting in injury to, or death of, the patient. Not all negative outcomes are the result of medical errors however, which is why attorneys for medical negligence engage medical professionals to assess whether the health care giver responsible, failed in his or her duties.
It doesn’t take much for severe consequences; failure to hear a respiratory alarm, could result in a patient asphyxiating, for example. A doctor might fail to accurately diagnose a patient’s condition, or prescribe unsuitable treatment or drugs. And it’s not unknown for surgeons to make mistakes in the operating theatre – in some cases, resulting in neonatal harm.
What should you do if you believe yourself to be a casualty of medical malpractice?
The first step in any situation like this is to contact a medical malpractice lawyer straight away because there are usually deadlines, within which, a suit may be filed. Your lawyer will be able to review your case to determine whether further action should be taken. While none of us likes to think that health care givers – the people we put our trust in – are lax in their practice, the fact of the matter is that some medical professionals are negligent in their work.
What can you do to lessen the chance of medical malpractice?
- Take a trusted friend or relative with you when seeing your doctor if you don’t feel you can be assertive.
- If there is something you don’t understand, then always ask.
- Likewise, never be afraid to question your prescription, and to ask about any side-effects.
- Always keep a list of any medications you are on.
- Know what your allergies are, and keep a list of these too.
- If your medication or care plan has changed, especially upon discharge from hospital, ensure you are clear about it. Again, if in any doubt, ask.
Medical staff – from aides to surgeons – are people too; they work long hours, and just like any of us, will sometimes make genuine mistakes. Although we quite literally put our lives in their hands, they are not superhuman, and shouldn’t be regarded as such, so it is up to you, the patient, to be proactive with your healthcare.
If you or someone you care about has suffered because of what may be medical mistakes, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Our expert medical negligence lawyers understand how overwhelmed you are feeling, and will be able to answer your questions, and ascertain what compensation you are entitled to.
Call our New York medical malpractice lawyers at Antin, Ehrlich, and Epstein LLP today on 917-730-7151 for a free consultation.
**Journal of the American Medical Association