What is Medical and Hospital Negligence?
When a doctor makes an incorrect diagnosis, fails to treat a patient's condition promptly, issues a wrong prescription, or neglects to administer appropriate care, the patient may suffer serious injury. The victim and his or her family may be overwhelmed with medical bills and other costs. In cases of permanent disability, the victim may never be able to work again. Victims and their families may also endure lasting emotional pain and suffering.
We’ve all heard stories of doctors operating on the wrong patient or a hospital staffer providing the wrong medication. Hospitals are responsible for the care and treatment of the sick and injured. You expect to be treated right. Unfortunately, mistakes on the part of hospital staff can have dire consequences. Doctors, nurses, physician's assistants, pharmacists, and hospital administrators can all make mistakes that directly affect patients. Even if the mistake was made by a single individual, the hospital may bear liability for the wrongdoing of its employee.
Hospital negligence can range from insufficient staffing and inadequate provision of care to unclean or dangerous facilities. For example, a nurse or doctor may be negligent if they fail to obtain a patient’s medical history, order incorrect tests, or deliver inappropriate or delayed care. Other hospital personnel might be negligent by failing to properly sanitize medical equipment or properly prevent people's exposure to hazardous materials or germs.
What are the Facts on Medical Errors in the U.S.?
Medical errors kills between 210,000 and 440,000 people every year in the U.S. and injure millions.
This large range is due to the inaccuracies in medical records and the reluctance of some providers to report mistakes.
Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer is the second.
What are the Top Medical Mistakes Made by Physicians?
- Treating the wrong patient: the hospital staff may accidentally mix up patients and their necessary treatments, which may lead to patients receiving the incorrect treatment.
- Surgical souvenirs: more often than we think, surgical staff members fail to count equipment which is then left inside the patient.
- Lost patients: patients with dementia are sometimes prone to wandering, which happens fairly often. Because of the hospital staff's negligence, the patient may become trapped while wandering and die from hypothermia or dehydration.
- Fake doctors: Unfortunately, con artists who pretend to be doctors is fairly common. Medical treatments may backfire which could lead to serious consequences.
- The ER waiting game: Emergency rooms get backed up when overcrowded hospitals do not have enough beds. This can result in patients getting sicker while they wait for care.
- Air bubbles in the blood: During a medical procedure, if the hole in a patient's chest is not sealed airtight after a chest tube is removed, it could allow for air bubbles to form in the blood which could cut off the blood supply to the patient's lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain. Left uncorrected, the patient could die.
- Operating on the wrong body part: If a patient's chart is incorrect, a surgeon misreads it, or a surgical draping obscures marks that denote the correct side to operate on, this could result in a surgeon operating on the wrong side of the body.
- Infection infestation: When doctors and nurses fail to properly wash their hands before surgery, this could result in serious infections that could lead to the patient's demise.
- Lookalike Tubes: Sometimes a chest tube and a feeding tube can we mistaken for one another by the physician. This could lead to medicine meant for the stomach being injected into the chest or vice versa.
- Waking up during surgery: Sometimes when not enough anesthesia is administered, the patient can be awake during surgery but their muscles might be frozen. Most patients aren't in pain but some do feel a poke, prod and cut.
In March 2014, South Nassau Communities Hospital, Long Island, warned of possible hepatitis, and HIV exposure after it was revealed that an insulin pen may have been used on more than one patient. Read more here.
In January 2013, two hospitals in the Buffalo NY area, Olean General Hospital and Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center, revealed that in some cases, insulin pens were used on more than one patient and patients may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C because of this reuse of insulin pens..
Insulin pens used by diabetics to inject insulin can be disposable or reusable with replaceable needles and cartridges. But according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, even reusable pens should not be used on more than one patient.
If you were treated at either of these hospitals and received insulin pen injections anytime between November 16th 2009 and January 16th 2013, you could be at risk for exposure to hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
Other Medical Negligent cases may be brought on due to the improper dosage of medication and other Medication Errors. Call us to discuss your legal options today.