Possible Liable Parties in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

For certain types of health problems, the last form of treatment that a doctor would usually recommend is surgery. Surgery is a complicated and risky medical procedure, but while many patients successfully go through it, others are just too weak to make it through the operation or a short while after the operation. There are cases, however, as shown through government records, when patients either suffer complications or never make it, not because they have weak bodies, but due, rather, to mistakes committed by those in charge of the procedure itself.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, errors during surgical procedures is just one of the many forms of medical mistakes which doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, hospitals and clinics are guilty of. Other items in the list of medical mistakes include misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, delayed treatment, wrong medication, and birth injury. All these mistakes result either to new health problems or to the worsening of an existing illness, diminishing the quality of life of many individuals.

In 2010, as reported by the Office of the Inspector General for Health and Human Services, about 180,000 Medicare patients died due to medical mistakes. The actual figure, however, as printed in the Journal of Patient Safety, patient deaths (including those not covered by Medicare) fall between 210,000 and 440,000.

From the figures given above, surgical errors account for, at least, 4,000 cases each year. Specific cases of surgical error include: wrong-person surgery; incorrect surgical procedure; wrong-site surgery; improper suturing; accidental puncture or laceration; removal of wrong organ; foreign bodies left inside a patient’s body; wrong dosage of anesthesia; post-operative hemorrhage or hematoma; physiologic and metabolic derangement; wound dehiscence, a surgical complication wherein a wound ruptures along a surgical suture; pulmonary embolism; and, wrongful death due to complications from negligent surgery.

Medical mistakes, especially surgical error, happen more frequently than many others think. What is equally disturbing is that these are committed even by well trained and experienced surgeons and the best hospitals in the US. Take, for example, the case of a 70-year old patient who died after two surgeons mistakenly removed the wrong kidney from his body; there are also reports of operating on the wrong side of a patient’s brain which happened three times within just a year, and all in the same hospital.

These mistakes are the bases of thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits filed against surgeons, nurses and the hospitals where these medical professionals are employed. Many hospitals, through their insurance providers, however, avoid lawsuits as much as these can by trying to settle with patients in order to protect their reputation, avoid the complexities of the legal procedure, and avoid paying costly compensation which the court may oblige these to pay their victims.

Medical professionals, by the way, as pointed out in the website of the Clawson & Staubes law firm, includes “licensed doctors, nurses, chiropractors, dentists, surgeons, physician’s assistants, pharmacists and any other medical professional that provides the claimant with care. Nursing homes and hospitals as well as EMS providers and paramedics” are also expected to provide a standard of care to which these can be held responsible if these fail to uphold such standard.

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