Is Medical Malpractice Common?

Medical Malpractice | June 6, 2023

Medical malpractice is a frightening issue that no patient wants to imagine could happen to them. When you seek medical care, you assume that the doctor or medical professional taking care of you will adhere to the accepted standards within the medical industry. Unfortunately, doctors make careless mistakes more often than most patients realize.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to the failure of a health care professional to provide the degree of care that a comparable practitioner would have used in the same or similar circumstances. When malpractice causes patient injury or death, the victim or victim’s family can file a medical malpractice claim in pursuit of financial compensation. A successful claim could result in payment for related medical costs, disability, pain and suffering, lost wages, lost future capacity to earn, and more.

Medical Malpractice Statistics

Historically, it has been difficult to quantify the prevalence of medical malpractice. Malpractice often does not go reported by doctors and health care centers. Investigators have estimated that medical malpractice takes hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Johns Hopkins Medicine came out with a report in 2016 where its patient safety experts calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year in the US were due to medical errors. This placed it as the third leading cause of death in the United States, surpassing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s third leading cause (respiratory disease, responsible for close to 150,000 deaths) that year. 

According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, in 2022, there were 38,938 adverse actions taken against health care practitioners and 10,807 medical malpractice payouts reported across the US. This equates to a total of 49,745 medical malpractice incidents reported for 2022. In Kentucky from 1990 to 2023, a total of 12,801 different practitioners were reported for 17,907 adverse events and 5,586 medical malpractice payments were processed. Kentucky’s rate of adverse actions has steadily increased since 1990, while medical malpractice payments have remained about the same.

What Are the Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

A doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist, OB-GYN or another health care practitioner can commit medical malpractice in many ways. Any act or omission that a reasonable and prudent doctor would not have made in the same or similar circumstances, resulting in patient harm, could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. The most common examples of medical malpractice are:

  • Diagnostic errors: making the incorrect diagnosis, unnecessarily delaying a diagnosis, or failing to diagnose a patient with any injury or illness at all. Diagnostic errors can result in a host of health problems for a patient, especially those with time-sensitive illnesses such as cancer.
  • Medication mistakes: prescribing the incorrect medication or dosage to a patient, or making drug administration errors. These mistakes can lead to dangerous overdoses or underdoses, as well as allergic reactions and adverse drug interactions.
  • Surgical errors: issues that occur during a surgical procedure due to a dangerous lapse in patient care, such as damaging nerves, leaving behind a foreign object, or operating on the wrong patient or body part. Anesthesia errors can also significantly injure patients.

Medical malpractice is a serious type of tort, or wrongdoing, that can lead to debilitating and even fatal patient injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice in Louisville, contact our Louisville personal injury attorneys to request a free case evaluation. You may be able to collect financial compensation from a doctor, hospital or another health care provider.

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