Medical mistakes occur in epidemic proportions. It is estimated that 40,000 medical errors occur each day in the United States 1. Approximately 200,000 people will die this year as a result of medical negligence and hospital infections 2 . In fact, medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States 3. Too many people unnecessarily die or are injured every day due to medical negligence and only about 3% of those injured file lawsuits 4. When you or a loved one is seriously harmed as a result of medical error, the law may be your only advocate.
Medical malpractice negligence is Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional.
Physicians owe a duty of care to those who seek their treatment. This element is rarely an issue in malpractice litigation because once a doctor agrees to treat a patient, he or she has a professional duty to provide competent care. More important is that the plaintiff must show some actual, compensable injury that is the result of the alleged negligent care. Proof of injury can include the physical effects of the treatment performed by the physician, but it can also include emotional effects.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) produced an article highlighting these medical malpractice lawsuit statistics, concerning patient deaths:
1 HealthGrades Sixth Annual, Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, April 2009
2 Hearst Corporation National Investigation, 2009.
3 Extrapolated from Hearst Corporation National Investigation, 2009 and National Vital Statistics Reports, Deaths: Final Data for 2006, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
4 “Beyond the Blame” New York Times, September 23, 2003.