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Medical Malpractice: How the Most Innocent Mistakes Can Leave the Most Damaging Effects

It’s been 10 years since The Washington Post released their article shedding light on one of the most dangerous problems we currently face with our healthcare system. As medicine is becoming increasingly more modern and accessible, technology being more advanced than ever before, and the quality of hospitals and medical instruments being held to continuously new and improved standards, it’s almost hard to think; What could go wrong? Even with all of these advances that we’ve seen since the start of modern medicine, medical malpractice still places a daunting shadow on American healthcare.

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional commits a negligent act that fails to meet the standard of their profession. This always ends up in some sort of injury to the patient, and many times, it has even ended in death. Cases of this nature have ranged from patients being either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, to others receiving surgery for a cancer they have never had in their lives! Medical Malpractice isn’t rare, it has been a major cause of personal injury and wrongful death here in the United States. A study conducted by John Hopkins University found that roughly 250,000 people die being victims of medical malpractice every year. Similarly, based on data, Joint Commission officials estimate that wrong-site surgery happens 50 times a week on average in US hospitals and clinics, and there is no sign of that number going down.

Despite various efforts, this problem still persists to this day and many experts have agreed that the issue of medical malpractice and wrong-site surgery may only be getting worse. Let’s look back at how severe some of these cases can really be. In 2010 a jury granted a $20 million negligence verdict against Arkansas Children’s Hospital for performing surgery on the wrong side of a 15-year-old boy’s brain, resulting in severe brain damage causing him to become psychotic. To make matters worse, this error was kept hidden from the child’s parents for over a year. This insufferable pain and feeling of being left in the dark are things that nobody should ever endure, especially by the hands of those deemed so trustworthy.

Other medical malpractice cases have also included:

So, the question remains; How do we prevent this from happening? Unfortunately, the solution to this issue isn’t one that’s easy nor probable. Hospitals have already begun to implement more safety rules and have taken higher precaution pre-surgery. Many medical experts also believe that all payments should be withheld from hospitals and medical practitioners until it is verified that everything went accordingly once it is said and done. But one of the best ways of holding the powerful accountable is by taking legal action. It is a common belief that there is no point in suing medical practitioners because it either already has been too late, or because no amount of money could equivalent to the emotional or physical trauma that one has already endured. If we want to create a safer environment for ourselves and our children, we must improve communication and report negligent practitioners even if the situation may seem miniscule. An implementation of checks and balances amongst hospital and clinic practitioners can also help ensure correct diagnostics and treatments to patients.

Fighting to discontinue their practice can also prevent these “never events” from happening to more innocent people in the future. Taking legal action is one of the ways we can work to start avoiding more innocent lives from being negatively impacted or even destroyed simply by negligence. Medical malpractice is serious. Being the third most common cause of death here in the United States, it is crucial we keep our healthcare providers to a higher standard and hold the wrongdoers culpable.

Quick Facts:

According to the JAMA, the current average payout for a medical malpractice claim is $329,565!

One of the largest medical malpractice settlements happened in Florida, when a man was misdiagnosed for having stroke symptoms. His payout was $216.7 million!

According to The New England Journal of Medicine, 99% of physicians will face at least 1 lawsuit by the age of 65!

The state of Georgia has one of the highest settlement averages in the United States, with it being at $370,000!