A 2016 American Medical Association (AMA) survey revealed that more than one-third of physicians in the United States had faced accusations of medical malpractice. Fifty percent of those have dealt with two more lawsuits.
Medical malpractice is defined as an injury to a patient due to a healthcare provider’s negligent acts or outright omission. It can take many forms and include:
- Surgical mistakes
- Prescription errors (overprescription and wrongful evaluations)
- Negligent aftercare
- Poor health management
- Early discharge from a medical facility
- Failing to order specific tests.
An all-too-common misconception is that malpractice suits are filed against medical doctors. In 2020, physicians actually came in second with close to 12,000 cases. However, more claims – a total of 13,000+ involved registered nurses. When combined with vocational nurses and paraprofessionals, the number of cases skyrocketed to approximately 22,700.
Other professionals sued for malpractice range from medical assistants, dentists, therapists, and even social workers.
Every year, more than 100,000 Americans will die or suffer permanent disability following misdiagnoses. The largest number of medical errors result from clinical judgment failures. Cases involving cancer (37.8 percent) top the list, with vascular events (22.8 percent) and infections (13.5 percent) coming in second and third, respectively.
Diseases most prone to misdiagnoses include:
- Lung, skin, breast, and prostate cancer
- Heart disease
- Blood clots in lungs and legs
Overall, misdiagnoses may have played a role in up to 80,000 hospital fatalities annually, with another 160,000 cases resulting in severe harm to patients’ health.
Not all misdiagnosed cases are successful. Only seven percent go to court, with 88 percent of verdicts favoring the defendant. Sixty-eight percent were withdrawn, dropped, or dismissed. While the odds may seem to be against plaintiffs, help from a skilled attorney focused on this aspect of personal injury law could be your best advocate.