Being diagnosed with a medical condition is a frightening experience. Knowing that your body has a problem you can’t fix is a life-altering situation.
Humans have been relying on the skills and knowledge of medical professionals since the dawn of time. Luckily for us, we live in a time where doctors and medicine perform miracles that were unthinkable to achieve centuries ago.
No matter how advanced our science becomes, negligence still exists. According to a study done by John Hopkins University, more than 250,000 people die every year in this country due to preventable medical errors.
Part of my job as a medical malpractice lawyer is to hold those individuals accountable who don’t respect the standard of care that’s necessary for and expected of their profession.
Medical malpractice can come in many different forms:
- Physician negligence
- Emergency room mistakes
- Nursing error
- Failure to diagnose
- Pharmaceutical error
- Surgical error
Unfortunately, these problems occur every single day, and there are many more negligence-related issues that could be added to the list. I focus on helping people who have been affected by these issues, but how do we prevent them from ever happening?
A lot of the responsibility in keeping a medical relationship satisfactory falls on the patient. The patient needs to ask questions, stay up to date on their medical history and research information on their own. It’s important to get everything in writing while working with your doctor.
Open communication between a doctor and patient is extremely important in preventing medical mistakes. Think about the volume of patients a doctor sees every day. If a doctor mistakenly confuses two patients, it’s likely not a heinous act of malpractice. Treating the wrong patient is actually a common medical mistake.
Hospitals are stressful work environments with thousands of people coming in and out every day. It’s reasonable to assume that a doctor will occasionally mix up a name. Patients need to look out for their best interests and always make sure their doctor is transparent and professional.
More serious problems can’t be prevented by any amount of patient input. For example, surgical errors are completely out of the patient’s hands. It’s up to doctors, medical institutions, and the medical education system to make sure that malpractice is prevented on a large scale.
The medical malpractice study completed by John Hopkins stated that 4,000 surgical errors occur every year in the United States. These errors range from leaving surgical tools in a patient’s body to removing the wrong organ. Can you imagine going in for surgery on your right arm and coming out only to realize that the procedure was done to your left arm? These mistakes still happen.
The United States is moving to utilize preventative medicine. This means taking steps to solve a medical problem before it reaches a dire situation. In theory, the medical community should apply this thinking to their own malpractice issues.
As medicine advances so do the structures of the medical community. However, there are issues that still need to be solved; malpractice exists and needs to continue to be addressed. Whether a doctor simply forgets your name or takes out the wrong organ, they need to be held responsible for the extremely important position they hold.
I work every day to address the negligence and failures of the medical community. I hope that medical malpractice follows the course of polio, measles, and smallpox, and becomes an issue of the past.
Unfortunately, I think we will always see examples of healthcare errors. I encourage patients to take proactive steps and ensure they are being treated with the highest standard of care.
Jared Staver is a Chicago personal injury attorney and the founder of Staver Law Group. Jared represents individuals across the state of Illinois in serious car accidents, wrongful death cases, and medical malpractice suits.