New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorney
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Behind heart disease and cancer, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the nation, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). But what constitutes medical malpractice? There are plenty of adverse side effects of procedures and treatments, so it is important to delineate what medical malpractice is and what it is not.
What is medical malpractice?
A simple definition of medical malpractice is a failure on the part of a healthcare provider to meet the recognized standard of care when treating their patient. Any deviation from the conduct a reasonably cautious medical provider would have administered under similar circumstances could lay the groundwork for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
A doctor in Edison is treating a patient who came in complaining of swollen lymph nodes. The patient is an older female with a family history of breast cancer – information that is readily available to the doctor. Rather than recommending a mammogram, the doctor opts to treat the patient’s swollen lymph nodes by recommending pain relievers and rest. Months later when the patient decides to revisit her doctor, her breast cancer, which was previously locally advanced Stage IIIc breast cancer, had progressed to Stage IV. One could argue that a reasonably prudent doctor, given similar circumstances, could have recognized the signs of breast cancer, recommended a mammogram, made a diagnosis, and started treatment right away.
The Element of Negligence
A patient only has a viable medical malpractice claim if they suffered injury/damages. While this is necessary to establish a medical negligence claim, injury/damages alone isn’t enough to prove malpractice. Bad outcomes in healthcare happen every day, but not all of them constitute malpractice. Only injury/damages combined with a deviation from the accepted standard of care can warrant a medical malpractice claim.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Since medical malpractice is any deviation from the accepted standard of care, the options for “types” is virtually endless. However, some categories of malpractice are more common than others. Some of the most talked about types of medical malpractice include:
Failure to diagnose, missed diagnosis, and misdiagnosis are some common types of diagnostic errors. Doctors can misread imaging tests, misinterpret symptoms, and fail to recommend the appropriate tests to make an accurate and timely diagnosis.
Mistakes during surgery can include accidental organ perforation, operating on the wrong body part, contamination and infection, or failure to monitor patient heart rate.
Coined because there is never any justifiable reason for these events occurring, some “never events” include performing a procedure on the wrong patient or leaving surgical instruments inside a patient after surgery.
Pharmaceutical Errors / Drug Interactions
Whenever two or more drugs are taken simultaneously, there is a possibility for them to interact and have an adverse side effect, so prescribing drugs correctly and safely is paramount.
Too much anesthesia can cause permanent injury or even death, while too little anesthesia can cause the patient to wake up during the procedure.
Medical Malpractice Statistics
These statistics were compiled from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the U.S. National Practitioner Data Bank, Diederich Healthcare, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and The Joint Commission.
- Roughly 5% of Americans receiving outpatient care are misdiagnosed.
- Diagnostic mistakes in hospitals account for 10% of patient deaths.
- 70% of adverse actions in healthcare were attributed to physicians.
- The most common type of medical malpractice claim is misdiagnosis, accounting for 33% of all claims. Surgical errors come in second, comprising 24% of claims.
- Out of all never events, wrong site surgery was the most common, comprising 13.5%.
Medical Malpractice Litigation Is Costly
Constructing a solid medical malpractice claim costs money. Plaintiff lawyers usually need to work with medical professionals and expert witnesses to establish their case, which can be costly. Plaintiffs must also consider the time cost. Sometimes, medical malpractice cases that go to trial last months or even surpass a year. For these reasons, you need an attorney who has adequate resources to pursue this type of claim. Levinson Axelrod, P.A. is that firm.
The Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases
If you believe that you or a loved one was harmed by medical malpractice, we strongly encourage you to pursue legal counsel quickly. Each state has a statute of limitations that bars legal actions after a certain date. In some states, the statute of limitations is two years after the date of injury or diagnosis. Since many factors can contribute to whether a person can file a medical malpractice claim, it is best to seek guidance directly from a lawyer experienced in medical malpractice litigation.
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