What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice, also known as medical negligence is defined as a professional negligence by an act or omission by a healthcare professional; their treatment falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community and causes injury or death to the patient. Most cases of medical malpractice involve medical errors.
How many people die preventable deaths from medical malpractice?
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a seminal study of preventable medical errors and they estimated that as many as 98,000 people die every year in the United States. The cost of these deaths is greater than $29 billion dollars. According to the Institute of Medicine, these deaths are nine times more than homicidal deaths and these preventable medical errors would be the sixth leading cause of death in America, if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were to include preventable medical errors as a category. Unfortunately these deaths have increased over the years. In fact, an editorial released by the New York Times in July 2012 estimated that more than 200,000 deaths every year are caused by preventable medical errors.
Why are there so many medical errors resulting in deaths in our society?
One of the reasons there is an increase in medical errors is that healthcare providers aren’t able to spend enough time with their patients. A physician spends eight to nine minutes at the most with a patient. Another reason maybe that when patients who are admitted to the hospital, they are sometimes discharged home too early. It’s not like it was before, back in the day. Things have changed over the years. Now the provision of healthcare to patients and the stay of hospitalized days for patients are primarily controlled by insurance companies, not healthcare providers. This is quite unfortunate. Also, many hospitals are short-staffed, and this definitely puts an alteration in the provision of quality healthcare.
Examples of medical errors that lead to preventable deaths
- delayed diagnosis
- failure to diagnose
- incompatible blood transfusions
- incompetent surgery procedures
- medication errors
- missed allergies
- missed diagnosis
- negligent birth delivery practice
- omission of required medical procedures
Preventable cases of medical malpractice deaths in Atlanta
In April 2013 an internal audit conducted by the Office of the Inspector General has linked the Atlanta VA Medical Center to three deaths that occurred over the last two years in the mental health service line, secondary to medical mismanagement. To address these concerns, a senate field hearing chaired by Senator Johnny Isakson, was held in Atlanta on August 07, 2013. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) during this hearing, Leslie B Wiggins who recently assumed the position as director of the Atlanta VA Medical Center reported that two VA employees were going to retire, three employees would be reprimanded and the facility is in the process of hiring more employees to provide healthcare service within the mental health service line. Next month a congressional hearing is scheduled to discuss other concerns. This meeting is to be chaired by Representative Jeff Miller, Chairman House Committee on Veteran Affairs. At this meeting the Atlanta VA Medical Center and three other VA medical centers have been invited to attend to discuss various concerns Miller has about their facility's provision of healthcare services to veterans.
In December 2012 an attorney in Atlanta filed five malpractice lawsuits against South Fulton Medical Center (that recently joined with Atlanta Medical Center) for the deaths of four babies and the serious injury of a fifth one. These five mothers have stated that the hospital did not provide proper medical care; claiming medical negligence in the provision of the care they provided. These mothers are devastated that they trusted a well-known established medical center with the delivery of their babies. On December 06, 2013 the AJC published an article addressing this situation, stating: "The suits assert that physicians and other health-care providers failed to recognize the signs of early labor in one case, unnecessarily delayed a cesarean delivery in another and failed to recognize fetal distress for another baby who was born brain dead and died four days later."
The examples of medical errors that lead to preventable deaths and the two actual cases of medical mismanagement resulting in medical malpractice in Atlanta are not conclusive. There are many more types of medical errors that are not mentioned above and quite a few more cases of medical malpractice with lawsuits against hospitals in Atlanta. If your spouse, sibling, relative, and/or if you know someone who believes their loved one died from what may have been medical malpractice, please contact an attorney as soon as possible. In Georgia there are statues of limitations; stipulations to the law that apply to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Therefore, you have no time to waste.
All people have the right to receive quality of care at all times and any individual who has lost a loved-one due to medical malpractice needs to be compensated. And it's not just about monetary gain. If a healthcare provider is responsible for medical malpractice that resulted in death, they need to be held accountable. Your actions will protect other patients and their family members in the future. Atlanta has several attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice lawsuits. As always, the choice is yours!