What Statistics Tell Us About Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice statistics are shocking, with medical malpractice showing as the third leading cause of death in the United States, just behind heart disease and cancer.
An estimated 225,000 victims die every year in hospitals due to medical malpractice when physicians or other medical professionals make preventable medical errors.
Did the medical negligence of physicians injure you, or did you lose a loved one through medical malpractice? Contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free consultation.
Let us discuss your compensation case to ensure your rights are protected.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a legal term defined as an act, omission, or medical error by a medical professional while treating someone who deviates from the medical community's accepted standards of practice.
Attorneys use medical malpractice as a subset of tort law dealing with professional negligence. The US justice system defines negligence as care and treatment misconduct based on standards identified by a reasonable person.
Typically, medical malpractice does not extend to voluntary assistance to help someone ill or injured, as defined by "Good Samaritan" laws to protect bystanders from being prosecuted or sued for unintentional injuries or wrongful death.
Nearly all medical malpractice lawsuits are filed in state court with the legal authority to hear the evidence and decide. Some cases are filed in federal courts when the litigating parties are from different states or if the plaintiff or defendant's fundamental constitutional right has been violated.
Medical Malpractice Description
Medical malpractice reports identified the most common examples of medical error as:
Standard of Care Violation
The justice system understands that professionals use accepted medical treatments that any reasonable health care professional would use under like or similar circumstances. When the standard is not met, patients have the right to be compensated for the damages caused by a negligent act.
Negligence Leading to an Injury
Valid medical malpractice claims can prove how the health care professional violated the accepted standard of care and how their injuries would not have occurred. Simply having an unfavorable outcome or prognosis is not malpractice, but proving that negligent acts caused the injury gives patients legal standing.
Injury Resulting in Damages
Typically, only the cases with the most significant damages are ever involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit due to litigation costs. Patients with minor damages might receive smaller payouts that will not be sufficient to pay for the costs of resolving a malpractice claim.
Common medical malpractice cases are filed by patients who have suffered significant disability, unusual pain, loss of income, suffering, financial hardship, and even death. Usually, these patients can show past, current, and future medical expenses.
Examples of Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice occurs in many forms, but the most common examples are:
- Failing to diagnose or diagnostic errors
- Delayed diagnosis
- Unnecessary lab tests
- Ignoring or misreading laboratory tests results
- Unnecessary surgical procedures
- Premature hospital or nursing home discharge
- Improperly prescribed medications
- Overdosing or underdosing prescription drugs
- Surgery on wrong-site
- Adverse effects of medication
- Childbirth mistakes
- Defective medical products
- Medication errors
- Surgical errors
- Emergency room mistakes
- Anesthesia miscalculations
- Disregarding the history of patients in diagnosis
- Gathering an incomplete patient history
- Failing to order the correct test
- Medical errors
- Failing to recognize a symptom and make a diagnosis leading to injury
- Failing to warn the patient of any known risks of the procedure medication (informed consent)
Medical malpractice claims are not easily provable and nearly impossible to resolve without legal representation. The financial cost of filing a lawsuit against physicians, hospitals, or nursing facilities can be expensive.
Medical Errors “Never Events”
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) identifies some conditions and illnesses considered "never events" that should never happen if the staff follows protocol, which includes:
- Facility-acquired bedsores (pressure sores, pressure wounds, pressure injuries, pressure ulcers, decubitus ulcers
- Avoidable falls
- Blood incompatibility
- Air embolism
- Urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Urinary catheter infection
- Infection on site of surgery
- Leaving objects in the body during surgery
According to the Institute of Medicine, many medical and surgical errors go unreported or unnoticed, with the actual number of people unnecessarily injured, permanently disabled, or killed through the medical mistakes of health care providers.
Medical Malpractice Statistics - States
- Most states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, have medical malpractice damage caps that limit the amount of compensation on large claims an injured party can receive through a negotiated settlement.
- New York State led in the number of medical malpractice payouts by insurance companies and totaled more than $7 billion in the last decade.
- According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, North Dakota had the lowest-paid medical malpractice claims at just over $28 million on average per year.
Medical Malpractice Statistics - Payments
- The average payout or average medical malpractice settlement from 2009 to 2018 was $309,908.
- The lowest medical malpractice payments occurred in 2010 with $3.67 billion.
- Over the last decade, injured victims and surviving family members reported more than 85,000 incidents of medical malpractice involving medical physicians
- 2019 was a record year in lawsuits over the last decade, with medical malpractice payments totaling over $4 billion in damages to injured parties
- Medical errors (preventable adverse effect of medical care) is the leading cause of avoidable deaths and claims 250 000 lives per year
- Unnecessary surgery claims 12,000 deaths per year
- The average amount paid out on claims is $242,000
Medical Malpractice Statistics - General
- Dentist assistants and dental hygienists have the lowest reported medical malpractice claims, numbering only forty-five claims for the same period in the last decade.
- The average age of a person who files a medical malpractice claim is 42 years old.
- Most medical malpractice suits never reach trial.
- Expert medical and financial experts hired by both the plaintiff and defendant could cost up to $1000 per hour or more.
- Physicians face at least one lawsuit by age sixty-five, which leaves lasting effects on health practitioners' physical and emotional health, from doctors to social workers.
- Medical malpractice insurance costs 30% of doctors more than $10,000 per year.
Medical Malpractice Claims
The plaintiffs in a medical malpractice suit have the burden of proof to resolve their case successfully. Their attorney must prove the elements of the case, including:
- The doctor's legal duty to treat and care for the patient existed
- The doctor breached their duty of care by failing to adhere to professional standards
- The doctor's breach of duty of the patient/doctor causal relationship injured the patient
- The legal system redress the patient's injuries and damages
Both the plaintiff and defendant must share factual information during discovery, including the request for documents, depositions, and interrogatories.
The attorneys for plaintiffs (injured parties) and defendants (doctors/hospitals) will review all pertinent medical records, clinical notes and possible second opinion, hospital building information, and other documents.
A medical malpractice claim can take time to resolve due to the extensive and lengthy discovery process. Medical malpractice cases might take up to four years or longer to be heard at trial.
Contact an Attorney Today to Handle Your Medical Malpractice Case
Don’t be a statistic. If you were injured through medical malpractice or lost a loved one through medical errors, let us help you.
Family members who lost a loved one can file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation from the health care provider, including:
- Hospitalization costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future lost earning capacity
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Non economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a consultation free of charge.
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Contact our personal injury attorneys today (888-424-5757) to schedule a consultation with no obligations to discuss the merits of your monetary recovery claim.
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