Wikipedia defines medical malpractice as professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which care provided deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient. There have been many cases in which patients, instead of receiving care and cure from healthcare institutions actually suffer injuries, and sometimes even die. A recent study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that as many as 98,000 patients may be killed each year in hospitals alone as a result of medical errors. This facts poses a serious national problem which may be unknown to the general public.
According to the Physician Insurers Association of America, there are four types of claims that are the most common:
- Failure to diagnose
- Incorrectly performed procedure
- Error in diagnosis
- Failure to perform procedure
Among the four, diagnosis issues tend to be the most common. After all, it’s an initial step a doctor takes before performing any procedure. Not all cases of a medical problem present exactly the same way. A doctor in a rush may not ask the right questions or really hear the patient’s replies. This is where a doctor’s subjective and objective skill is put to the test. Wrong laboratory and clinical procedures may follow an incorrect diagnosis.
Another form of neglect can involve the medical professional prescribing the wrong prescriptions or medical devices to a patient. The medical professional can be held liable if the patient is prescribed the wrong medication dosage. Healthcare providers, especially doctors, should take into consideration that not all patients understand everything that is written in the prescription papers and therefore should make an extra effort in explaining the dosage and frequency for the medication the physician is prescribing.
There are many medical malpractice cases that go unreported or undetected; perhaps this is due to lack of knowledge and information. Information is the tool in saving yourself from unfortunate injuries that may happen. It is imperative to always ask questions when necessary. You may gather information from books and on the internet. Finally, always seek a second opinion when in doubt about the initial diagnosis.