Although people recognize that medical malpractice exists, they may not really understand how big of a risk it is. Someone going to the emergency room for immediate care, for example, likely trusts that the workers there will recognize the underlying cause of their symptoms and help them get treatment in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, according to current statistics, medical malpractice may be more of an issue than the average person realizes. The three statistics below may help remind people of the need to advocate for themselves when they require treatment.
Malpractice is a leading cause of death
A few years ago, a publication looking at rates of medical errors made the shocking claim that malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Researchers now question the validity of that claim. However, there is little question that tens of thousands of people in the United States every year die because of mistakes made by those providing their medical care. Countless others may suffer life-altering injuries. Malpractice is a leading cause of injury and death even if it doesn’t hold third place on the list.
Millions of people aren’t provided with an accurate diagnosis
Diagnostic errors are consistently the leading source of medical malpractice issues in the United States. Sometimes, physicians rush to a conclusion and end up overlooking important details when trying to decide what caused someone’s symptoms. Other times, doctors are unable to diagnose someone at all because they don’t acknowledge the symptoms that someone reports or fail to order proper testing. Roughly 5% of patients experience a diagnostic mistake each year.
Medication errors occur with alarming frequency
Patients often assume that the healthcare they receive in the professional setting will be safer than self-administered treatment. However, the data about medical errors paints a very different picture. Intravenous (IV) drug administration may seem like the safest option, but current research shows that 10% or more of IV medication treatments involve at least one mistake. Timing errors are the most common of these mistakes and can lead either to reduced treatment efficacy or an overdose for the patient.
Those who understand what the statistics say about malpractice will be in a better position to advocate for themselves and their family members. Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can both diminish the financial consequences for the patient involved and increase the consequences for negligent healthcare workers or the corporate entities that employ them.