Statistically speaking, medical malpractice suits are down. There were 15,000 paid medical malpractice claims in 2003, but there were just 8,600 in 2015. That being said, the cost of medical malpractice cases is quite high, ringing in at $3 billion in 2012.
We want to make sure that you are not doing anything that can land you in trouble.
Failure to Diagnose
A study by BMJ Open found that failure to diagnose was the leading cause of medical malpractice suits. Delay in diagnosis is also a big reason why doctors face malpractice claims. Clinicians are always learning and are constantly being tested on their knowledge. Some doctors are opting to practice ‘defensive medicine’, which can include ordering tests that are not really needed. These practices mean that patients have to bear some costs, but doctors are often left with no choice.
Using only paper, keeping track of every prescription (and every interaction!) is a total nightmare. To combat this, doctors are turning to electronic health record systems so that they can centralize all of the information they have about a patient. It has never been easier to track and store information.
It is hard to overstate how serious this problem is. Medical professionals make one mistake per day, and the consequences for these errors are often quite severe. Investing in the right technology is the difference between a lawsuit and smooth sailing.
Mistakes with Anesthesia
When an anesthesiologist fails to read a patient’s history, he or she runs the risk of over (or under) prescribing an anesthetic, or using an anesthetic that the patient is allergic to. This is why having an electronic health record system is so important. In addition, sometimes anesthesiologists fail to monitor the patient’s vital signs, or improperly intubate a patient.
Children are fragile. A tangled umbilical cord, a ham-fisted use of forceps, or the vacuum extractor can lead to a claim. Negligence can happen during the pregnancy as well, such as when an obstetrician does not recognize a birth defect or an ectopic pregnancy.
Surgeons, like all doctors, have a hard job. A single slip of the hand can result in nerve damage that persists for someone’s entire life. Even something as simple as a communication error can result in a malpractice claim, such as when a foreign object is left in a patient’s body. While it is incredibly uncommon, occasionally the wrong patient is operated on, or the wrong body part. These sorts of claims are less common than medication errors or childbirth problems, however.
Failure to Obtain Informed Consent
Your patient needs to understand what is happening to them. That includes helping them learn what the procedure is, possible outcomes, and reasonable alternatives to the recommended course of action. After they fully comprehend what is going on, they need to say yes. Some religious groups may reject a certain procedure, while others may feel uncomfortable for their own reasons.