In an interesting development in the field of medicine, medical malpractice insurers have begun combing through thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits from the past to identify common themes in these claims. By recognizing emerging similarities, doctors, hospitals, and medical facilities are better able to prepare for, prevent, and proactively address threats to patient safety.
Today, medical malpractice remains a consistent problem for doctors, malpractice insurers, and most importantly, for patients. According to a 2013 study in the journal Health Affairs, the average doctor dedicates over 50 months, nearly 11% of a 40-year career, to an unresolved, protracted medical malpractice case. Insurance companies are similarly daunted by medical malpractice claims, as compensation amounts increase approximately 4 percent each year. But who suffers most from medical negligence? Obviously, the innocent patients who are forced to cope with devastating health consequences, if not the loss of a loved one, due to often preventable medical errors.
A recent study in the BMJ revealed that medical errors result in the deaths of approximately 251,000 Americans each year, representing the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Now, by venturing into the past, researchers can identify the most common forms of error that jeopardize patient health outcomes. The Doctors Company, which is the largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, has investigated over 10,000 closed medical malpractice cases in over 40 studies conducted in the last few years. Meanwhile, Crico, the malpractice insurer for Harvard Medical School-affiliated doctors and hospitals, has evaluated concerns associated with primary care.
Overall, there are emerging themes that transcend nearly every medical specialty, with failure to diagnose and improper technique during a procedure chief among the prevailing medical errors. Researchers have also drilled down into specific practice areas, such as anesthesiology, emergency treatment, cardiology, and obstetrics, to identify common errors that occur within medical specialties.
For instance, in the field of obstetrics, a strikingly frequent cause for malpractice claims involves birth injuries to infants who have higher-than-average birth weights. In many of these cases, infants suffer an injury known as shoulder dystocia due to errors during delivery. Shoulder dystocia is a condition that arises when one or both of the child’s shoulders becomes wedged behind the mother’s pubic bone. Without immediate and accurate execution of one of the accepted maneuvers to correct this issue, shoulder dystocia can result in brachial plexus injuries and other permanent functional deficits. It is important to note that certain risk factors increase the likelihood of higher birth weights and corresponding conditions. For example, mothers who are overweight or those who suffer from gestational diabetes have infants who are at greater risk.
Ultimately, knowledge is power, and medical professionals can only benefit from understanding the mistakes of the past. However, when medical malpractice does, in fact, harm the patient, negligent parties must be held accountable. If you or someone you love has suffered as a result of medical malpractice, contact Fronzuto Law Group today for a free consultation. Our knowledgeable attorneys are happy to discuss the circumstances of your case and to answer all of your questions.
For additional information about this issue, access the following article: Clues to Better Health Care From Old Malpractice Lawsuits