Medical malpractice: What victims need to know

People are at risk for becoming malpractice victims during their experiences with doctors and hospitals. Medical malpractice occurs at a high frequency.

When people in San Diego seek medical care, they expect to be helped, not harmed. However, sometimes staff and medical professionals fail to do their job properly and when these errors happen, they can be life altering for patients and their families.

What is medical malpractice?

Speaking broadly, medical malpractice happens when health care professionals cause injuries, harm or fatalities. From the time that people sit in the waiting room to be called to the examination room, to when they go home armed with instructions about how to care for themselves under doctors' orders, medical malpractice is a risk.

What are the risks associated with surgery?

There are various problems that can occur when patients have surgeries. They include:

  • Contamination from unclean instruments
  • Items being miscounted and left inside patients
  • Improper patient monitoring during and after a procedure
  • Procedures performed on wrong site
  • Wrong surgical procedure performed

The last item on the list happens with particular frequency. Items get left inside patients after an incision site is closed nearly 40 times every week, according to Medical News Today. Additionally, the scientists looked at mistakes that should never happen, and found 62 percent of the doctors that committed those errors during an operation were repeat offenders.

Researchers analyzed malpractice incidents that occurred across two decades and found some other interesting tidbits: Over a third of the surgeons responsible were in their late 40s. The majority of victims were in that same age range.

What about mistakes in a doctor's office?

Errors might also come into play during routine checkups if doctors fail to notice a health problem, or do not order testing to determine the progression of an issue or find out whether a treatment is working as expected.

They may also give patients an incorrect diagnosis. According to WebMD, about 160,000 incorrect diagnoses cause death or permanent health issues each year, but things could have been done to prevent them. Furthermore, most Americans will be wrongly diagnosed in their lifetime.

Are hospitals safer?

Hospitals can become dangerous places if workers do not properly monitor patients to spot signs that a condition is worsening or that complications are setting in. Employees may also fail to maintain the facilities to prevent the spread of germs that are resistant to antibiotics. This is a common problem and hospitals are constantly working to combat it.

It is not possible to eliminate the risk of antibiotic resistance in hospitals. However, there are numerous best practices that should be followed to keep patients as safe as possible.

If you have questions about medical malpractice and its legal implications, it may be a good idea to talk with a San Diego attorney.