The Frequency of Medical Malpractice in the United States

Most people of adult age are aware of what medical malpractice is.  The legal term is another way of stating negligence, but in particular to professionals who practice medicine.  The term “medical professional” is meant to be broad and includes primary physicians, surgeons, assistants, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and in general any professional with whom you have entrusted your health. 

Hudson medical malpractice attorneys handle medical malpractice case routinely.  The experienced attorney is well aware of the frequency with which medical malpractice occurs.  However, most people are startled by the frequency of this negligence. 

Amputating the wrong appendage, operating on the wrong patient, improperly diagnosing a patient, delaying a proper diagnosis, and prescribing the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage are common mistakes made by medical professionals. 

So frequent are some negligent acts, medical researchers have given a name to certain types of medical malpractice.  The term is known as, “never event”.  Medical professionals use this term to describe certain events that should never occur.  Some were named above, that is amputating the wrong appendage and operating on the wrong patient.  Additional never events are leaving objects inside a surgical patient’s body, such as sponges, clamps, needles, etc. 

Laws have required medical professionals to implement specific procedures so that these acts are obliterated.  For example, during pre-surgery exams, the surgeon will write his or her initials on the exact location upon which the procedure is to be conducted; additionally, operating room staff will keep a “sponge count” so that these objects are accounted for after the surgery is complete. 

Unfortunately, even with these laws and procedures, Johns Hopkins University researchers claim that over 4,000 never events occur annually in our country.  Put another way, surgery performed on the wrong part of the body occurs around twenty times a week and thirty nine patients have foreign objects wrongfully left in their bodies after surgery.  More troubling is how researchers believe that these numbers are lower than that which actually occurs.     

Underreporting of medical malpractice events in general may be highly due to the fact that some injuries caused by negligence were treated before the patient realized the problem and its cause.  For example, an infection caused by negligent maintenance of health facilities and equipment may have been reported as an infection inherent in the risk of surgery.  Moreover, malpractice that caused a “minor” injury might have been considered as too slight for the professional to disclose and/or for the patient to complain about.    Lastly, the additional pain and suffering experienced by the patient may have been considered to be a natural effect of the procedure and not due to negligence. 

The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle medical malpractice cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.