The number of reported medical malpractice cases is dropping. In 2001, there were more than 16,000 claims. Just 15 years later, that number had dropped by close to half. That doesn’t mean medical malpractice can’t happen to you or your loved ones. When it does, the physical and emotional trauma can seem overwhelming. Here are five things you never knew about medical malpractice but should.
Half of All Medical Malpractice Cases Are Against Surgeons
Surgeons are the defendants in half of all medical malpractice cases. Some of the cases that have been filed against surgeons include operating on or removing the wrong area of the body or organ. A surgeon may leave a surgical sponge behind and cause an infection. In one New York case, an orthopedic surgeon was found to have performed up to 14 operations per day on as many as 3 patients at the same time.
A patient has every right to ask questions about the procedure, preventative steps that are taken to avoid surgical errors, and the doctor’s training and experience. Still, that doesn’t guarantee a perfect surgery. Mistakes can be made. If the surgeon’s neglect or improper techniques are to blame for an injury, infection, or death, the surgeon should be held accountable for not only that patient but also for future patients.
9 out of 10 Medical Malpractice Trials Involved Matters Where Permanent Injury or Death Occurred
Around 90% of medical malpractice trials occur because a patient was permanently injured or died as a result of medical error. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine looked at some of the cases involving permanent injury or death. More than one-third of them were caused by a diagnostic error.
An example of a diagnostic error occurred in Alabama. A family won $9 million in a wrongful death medical malpractice case. An urgent care clinic saw a woman complaining of a cough, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. She was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics and an order to return if the symptoms worsened. The symptoms did, but the new doctor didn’t look at her chart and sent her home with an inhaler. She died a day later from blood clots.
The Average Success Rate for Medical Malpractice Suits is 27%
The success rate for medical malpractice cases may not seem high, but many complaints are settled long before reaching the courtroom. Of those that did end up in a trial, almost 40% were against dentists, 27% were against surgeons, and 23% were against other doctors.
The Median Award in a Malpractice Trial is $425,000
When it comes to financial awards, medical malpractice cases often pay far more money than a tort trial. The median award is $425,000. Higher awards are often given in cases involving surgeons. Median awards against dentists are much lower at $53,000. In 33% of cases involving a medical professional outside of surgeons and non-surgeons, the awards exceeded $1 million.
One of the largest medical malpractice awards ever was awarded to a woman who was having a severe allergic reaction. Her mother called 911, but the ambulance arrived and didn’t have the proper equipment. The treatment was delayed. The 29-year-old went into anaphylactic shock and suffered brain damage and paralyzed due to the delayed treatment.
New York Continues to Top the List of Highest Malpractice Costs and Most Claims
One state consistently appears at the top of the lists for both the highest malpractice costs and most malpractice claims. That state is New York. It’s estimated that around 20% of all malpractice complaints occur in New York. Of New York’s approximately 9.5 million residents, around 807 people filed malpractice claims.
While New York has the highest number of medical malpractice complaints, malpractice can happen in any state at any time. It can also happen at any age. A premature baby in San Diego was given a feeding tube after birth, but the glucose rate being fed into that feeding tube was incorrect. The infant ended up with cerebral palsy due to the nurses’ errors. The mother received a $20 million award, which will help with extra care the girl will need for all of her life.
Were you or someone you love the victim of medical malpractice? Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley are experts in malpractice cases in California. Among their successes are the $74.525 award for a child injured during birth and $3.7 million received after the defense refused to avoid a trial. Trial Lawyers for Justice won’t charge you unless they win your medical malpractice case or negotiate a favorable settlement. Call 1-888-CZR-FIRST to discuss your situation.