The degree of care expected out of a medical professional is not the same as that of any reasonably prudent man, but that of an expert. Still, errors are bound to occur. Mistakes may include bad judgment, ignorance or even carelessness. People in Cook County, Illinois, should understand that whatever the reason, the consequences of these errors are ultimately borne by innocent patients.
According to a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, medical mistakes in the United States claim around 98,000 lives each year. That figure has now reached an estimated 200,000 per year, making medical malpractice one of the primary causes of death in United States.
One reason for this increasing trend in medical mistake-related fatalities is the rise of unwarranted procedures or defensive medicine. In an anonymous survey, orthopedic surgeons admitted that 24 percent of the tests they ordered were medically unnecessary.
With each additional procedure or test, regardless of how carefully it is performed, there arises a new possibility of error, infection, allergic reaction or overdose. For example, use of anesthesia for a routine operation may increase the risk of cardiac arrest.
There is no doubt about the prevalence of the culture of defensive medicine in the United States. A shocking number of tests and procedures are performed in the U.S. compared to other industrialized nations. Since the mid-1900s, the percentage of doctor visits wherein at least five drugs were prescribed has almost tripled, and the number of MRI tests has quadrupled.
When a doctor makes a mistake, fellow doctors should question the necessity of the procedure or medication in question. Hospitals may also implement policies meant to empower nurses to confront doctors when they make mistakes.
Victims of medical malpractice may file a claim for damages against the negligent doctor. The damages may include medical costs directly arising out of the malpractice, psychological treatment, lost wages and the costs of litigation.
Source: The New York Times, “More treatment, more mistakes,” Sanjay Gupta, July 31, 2012.
For more information, please visit our Arlington Heights medical malpractice page.