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What are the Leading Causes of Medical Malpractice?

July 20, 2021

Medical mistakes are much more common than most people realize. Researchers from Johns Hopkins have pointed out that medical errors of the third leading cause of death in the US.

How do so many preventable medical errors occur?

This is certainly a question that needs answering, particularly because so many people interact with medical professionals on a regular basis. Here, we want to discuss the leading causes of medical malpractice claims as well as the importance of working with a skilled attorney if you think that you have been harmed due to the negligence of a medical professional.

Medical Mistakes – The Stats and Causes

The researchers from Johns Hopkins University have said that around 250,000 individuals lose their lives each year due to preventable medical errors in the United States. Some estimates place this number closer to 400,000 lives lost.

However, the fatality statistics only show us part of the overall problem. Millions of other individuals sustain injuries and survive medical errors. Many of these individuals suffer from long-lasting consequences that they would not have otherwise suffered from had the medical error not occur.

There are many causes of medical malpractice claims that arise in the US. This includes the following:

  • Failure to diagnose a medical condition
  • Misdiagnosis of a medical condition
  • Errors made during surgeries
  • Failure to monitor a patient before a medical procedure
  • Failure to monitor a patient after a medical procedure 
  • Prescription medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Healthcare-acquired infections
  • Failing to follow up on test results

This is certainly not a complete list of how medical mistakes arise. If you think you have a viable medical malpractice claim, please seek assistance from an attorney as soon as possible. 

Can a Doctor or Hospital be Held Liable?

Medical mistakes can occur in a wide variety of ways, as the list above displays. However, not all incidents of medical mistakes will result in a medical professional being held liable. When determining whether or not to hold a medical professional responsible for a mistake, we will be looking at four elements:

  1. Duty. It needs to be shown that the medical professional in question owed a duty of care to the patient. In general, if a provider-patient relationship has been established, then they will owe a duty of care.
  2. Breach of duty. In order to prove that there was a breach of care, it needs to be determined whether or not the medical professional acted in a way that a similarly trained professional would have acted in a similar situation. If it is determined that the medical professional in question provided substandard care, then it may be possible to hold them responsible for a mistake.
  3. Causation. It needs to be shown that the medical error in question directly caused the injuries or pain and suffering experienced by the patient. There are times when a medical mistake occurs and there are no adverse patient effects. However, if an error did directly cause harm to a patient, the medical professional may hold liability. 
  4. Damages. Finally, it needs to be established that the patient involved suffered some sort of quantifiable losses as a result of the incident.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a medical professional, you need to work with a skilled medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. These cases can become incredibly complex, and success without an attorney is rare. A lawyer will be able to handle every aspect of the claim, including investigating the incident, working with other trusted medical professionals, and negotiating with all parties to help recover maximum compensation.