Few industries are subject to regulations and licensing requirements the way that the medical industry is. Even small choices made by workers at a hospital could have life-altering consequences for the people in their care.
Most people providing medical services have state licensing and are subject to very strict employer policies. Unfortunately, no rule can prevent people from making mistakes on the job. Medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
When you understand the most common kinds of medical malpractice, you can do a better job advocating for yourself or a family member in the modern healthcare system.
Misdiagnosis or failed diagnosis
Researchers estimate that diagnostic mistakes claim between 40,000 and 80,000 lives every year, possibly more.
Doctors sometimes rush to conclusions when they hear about a patient’s symptoms without ruling out serious medical issues first. Other times, they fail to order necessary testing or choose to ignore self-reported symptoms that a patient informs them about during an exam.
Diagnostic mistakes can lead to someone undergoing the wrong treatment, while diagnostic failure might mean a long-term delay in getting necessary care.
Medication mistakes come in many different forms. A nurse physically handing out prescription medication to patients in a hospital could mix up similar-looking capsules.
A technician in a pharmacy could improperly mix medication intended for intravenous (IV) administration. Staff members had a nursing home could forget to give someone their pills, undermining the effectiveness of an antibiotic regimen.
Any of these mistakes could have serious health consequences for the patient affected.
Overworked nurses trying to do their last rounds before they leave for the night might fail to check in on patients and could therefore miss something crucial. Understaffed workers at a nursing home facility may have no choice but to ignore call lights illuminated by individuals who desperately need to go to the bathroom. Medical neglect or the failure to respond appropriately when someone needs support in a medical facility is common and likely seriously underreported issue.
When you recognize the human shortcomings of those providing your medical care, you will be in a much better position to hold someone accountable if their mistakes or oversights harm your health. Learning more about medical malpractice can help you stand up for yourself when you don’t receive the care that you deserve.