Waiting for a loved one to return from serious surgery or recover from an accident in a medical setting can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. When doctors and hospitals make mistakes, the consequences can be deadly. The top causes of wrongful death in medical malpractice claims are directly related to the most common mistakes that are made in hospitals.
The numbers are often shocking. According to a study completed by Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. When you or a loved one go to a hospital for an out-patient procedure or are admitted, it’s important to do what you can ensure the best treatment possible. This may involve asking for clarification often so you understand the treatments, and speaking up in the event you see something wrong.
Even when you attempt to improve the quality of care, there are other factors that are out of your hands. When a physician, nurse, or other hospital staff member neglects their responsibility and the required standard of care they’re supposed to provide, you or your loved one will have to deal with the consequences. An Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer can help you navigate those consequences, so the focus can be put on finding a new normal.
Let’s take a look at the top causes of wrongful death in medical malpractice.
Leading Causes of Medical Malpractice Deaths
The majority of wrongful deaths resulting from medical malpractice can be traced back to a lack of communication between doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. These errors occur during interactions between providers and caregivers. It’s also common for crucial information or instructions to be relayed unclearly, or not at all. Communication lapses are often blamed on misinformation about a patient’s condition, ignoring a patient’s complaint, or the lack of informed consent.
Communication errors can become deadly when a patient’s records aren’t updated properly. As a result, medication may be administered incorrectly, vitals may be monitored improperly, or suspicious symptoms may go unnoticed.
Delayed treatment can happen for a variety of reasons. While there are instances where less-than-optimal treatment is provided and does not involve medical malpractice, significant delays that lead to harm are different. A doctor should be held accountable for time-related mistakes because the standard of care doctors follow often includes providing timely medical treatment on a case-by-case basis.
Emergency room delays can be linked to the causes of medical malpractice deaths, especially when an individual with a serious condition goes to an emergency department and isn’t treated for an extended period of time, to the point their condition worsens significantly or irreparably.
Medical malpractice deaths and claims are often related to diagnostic errors. These mistakes include misdiagnoses and failures to diagnose. Many of these errors are made by primary care physicians, pediatric doctors, emergency medicine professionals, and surgeons. Heart attack, cancer, and meningitis are some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.
There are a variety of factors that contribute to diagnostic errors. Those factors include:
- Limited access to money or medical literacy resources
- Lack of sufficiently trained healthcare professionals
- Poor teamwork and communication
- Limited diagnostic tests available
Errors regarding medication can be related to professional practice, health care products, and systems and procedures including prescribing, ordering, labeling, packaging, dispensing, educating, and monitoring. If a patient is given the wrong dose or the wrong medication, they may suffer serious complications.
Anesthesia errors are incredibly dangerous and can lead to death. When a person is given too little anesthesia, they may wake up during surgery. While this does not happen often, it can cause serious complications and trauma. When a patient is given too much anesthesia during a procedure, oxygen can be cut off to the brain. If this happens and goes unnoticed, the patient may suffer permanent brain damage or death.
All surgeries involve elements of risk; however, with the proper precautions, many of those risks can be lessened. Surgical errors may result from inadequate knowledge or training, improper planning, poor communication, or physician fatigue.
The most common examples of surgical mistakes include operating on the wrong body part, operating on the wrong patient, injuring a nerve during surgery, and leaving a piece of surgical equipment inside the patient after closing.
If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of a doctor’s or hospital’s negligence, our legal team will work diligently to investigate your case and present the best possible evidence to ensure you receive full and fair compensation for your loss.