A Look at Medical Errors and Wrongful Death

Posted on May 27, 2015 in Personal Injury

Wrongful deaths due to medical negligence cause more people to die each year than drug overdoses, breast cancer and AIDS. Recently, Vox.com published an article evaluating some of the potential reasons why there are so many medical mistakes within the United States.

Understanding the issue is key to reducing the problem and saving lives. Every death due to a doctor’s mistake is tragic, and surviving family members of those who have died should consult with a New Orleans wrongful death lawyer for help pursuing a damage claim.

Why Do Medical Mistakes Cause Wrongful Deaths in New Orleans?

Medical mistakes can be broadly grouped into two different categories, according to Vox. One category consists of medical errors caused by setting an incorrect treatment plan, such as prescribing the wrong dosage of medication for a patient.

The second category includes medical errors that occur when the correct treatment plan is established but is not able to be followed. When a physician operates on the wrong patient instead of the person who was supposed to have surgery, this is an example of a failure to follow a correct treatment plan.

The problem is: both types of errors typically embarrass doctors (and put them at risk of being sued in a wrongful death or personal injury case). This means that physicians and healthcare providers rarely have open conversations about what mistakes are made or why those errors occur.  In fact, only approximately 1/3 of patients whose physicians make errors are informed that a medical mistake was made in their treatment.

If physicians and care providers don’t talk about their errors, it can be impossible for industry-professionals to come together and brainstorm solutions that could be effective in lowering the rates of wrongful death due to negligence.

Another problem is that hospitals don’t have a lot of financial incentive to spend money to try to prevent medical errors. In fact, they have a perverse incentive not to spend a lot to implement safety reforms. Why? It’s because the sicker a patient is or the more complications he or she suffers, the more money the hospital makes.

While this almost never leads to care providers intentionally injuring patients (which would be a crime), it means that it doesn’t make a lot of financial sense for a hospital to spend a great deal of money to prevent treatment problems.

In order to force hospitals to spend the money to correct errors, it would be necessary for the hospital to fear the costs of litigation such that it would be worth it to spend the extra cash to prevent the mistakes from occurring. The more people who sue a hospital after a wrongful death, the more likely the hospital is going to want to prevent future suits and will go the extra mile to do so.

Malpractice victims and those whose loved ones are killed need to file a lawsuit, not just to get compensation for their own harm, but also to act as a deterrent that could prevent future harm. A wrongful death lawyer in New Orleans can help with the process of taking legal action.

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