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How Common Is Medical Malpractice?

January 3, 2022

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When you’re feeling sick and go to the doctor to find out what’s wrong with you, or you’re admitted to the hospital for surgery or another treatment, you may be a little nervous about the outcome. That’s a common experience, especially if you don’t normally spend much time in doctors’ offices or hospitals. But even though you might be nervous, you never expect your doctor or surgeon to make a careless mistake that harms you.

Unfortunately, medical malpractice is more common than you think. It’s estimated that around 200,000 people die as a result of medical malpractice every year. Countless more patients are seriously injured or sickened by medical mistakes annually. The true number of medical malpractice cases in Ohio and the U.S. is difficult to determine, as most people who are harmed by healthcare professionals never file complaints or lawsuits.

Why Does Medical Malpractice Happen?

Even the most well-regarded and highly trained physicians and healthcare practitioners are capable of making mistakes. And a bad outcome—even one that’s the result of a mistake—isn’t always considered medical malpractice. But when negligence is a factor, medical malpractice may have occurred.

There are many reasons medical malpractice happens, including doctors:

  • Spending too little time per patient: In many clinics, healthcare providers are pressured to see as many patients as possible per day. That means they may have only 10-15 minutes with each patient. When doctors are rushing to go from room to room, they may miss obvious symptoms or misdiagnose patients, which can cause their health to worsen and for them to develop new conditions.
  • Breaking established protocols: During surgery, surgeons and their support teams are supposed to do things by the book whenever and wherever possible. However, surgeons may deviate from these established procedures to finish faster or because they feel like they’re above the rules. When proper procedures aren’t followed, serious injuries and complications can occur.
  • Practicing without proper qualifications: Doctors and surgeons are trained to be well-versed in medicine and to have a general knowledge of the entire body. But that doesn’t mean they’re qualified to treat things outside of their specialties. When they do, they can put their patients at risk, as they lack the education and experience to make the right decisions for their patients’ treatment protocols.
  • Pushing overly aggressive treatments: Every treatment must be viewed as a risk-reward scenario. Whether it’s an over-the-counter medication or open-heart surgery, doctors must determine the risks of each treatment and whether they’re likely to benefit their patients. When doctors are overly aggressive in their treatment regimens, they can cause patients to needlessly suffer serious injuries and illnesses.
  • Dismissing patient complaints and symptoms: On the flip side, sometimes doctors dismiss their patients’ symptoms or fail to take them seriously. When doctors don’t act promptly and decisively upon learning of patient symptoms, whether it’s investigating them further or beginning a treatment regimen, their patients’ health can quickly worsen and treatable conditions may become untreatable.
  • Making inexcusable mistakes: In some cases, doctors and surgeons are outright reckless. This can include operating on the wrong body parts, leaving surgical tools inside patients’ bodies, operating or practicing medicine while intoxicated or impaired, and more. These breaches of trust and egregious displays of misconduct can prove fatal for the patients under their care.

How Can You Tell if You’re Likely to Be a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

As a patient, you are your own best advocate. Although it’s important to trust your doctor, it’s also important to trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right about your diagnosis, treatment plan, or even the way your doctor interacts with you, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion.

But unfortunately, there’s no way to completely prevent medical malpractice from occurring. This is why it’s important for patients and their families to have access to the legal system and the ability to hold negligent providers and facilities accountable when their mistakes cause serious illnesses, injuries, and complications.

We Can Help If You’re Harmed by a Doctor, Surgeon, or Other Provider

The consequences of medical malpractice can range from minor illnesses to fatal surgical mistakes. And the costs of negligence, whether it was a single act or an ongoing issue, can be enormous for victims and their families. At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we believe that victims and their loved ones shouldn’t have to pay for mistakes that weren’t their fault.

If you or someone you love was harmed by a doctor, surgeon, or other healthcare professional you should have been able to trust, our Ohio medical malpractice lawyers want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll prove negligence caused your injury or illness, we’ll calculate how much money you’re owed, and we’ll fight to get you paid.

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