Deadly Medical Errors – Greatly Underestimated and Underreported

Recent studies indicate that deadly preventable medical mistakes are both grossly underestimated and underreported. Approximately half of the respondents to related surveys thought that the total number of annual deaths from medical mistakes was just 5000, or even less than that. Actually, avoidable medical errors account for about 100,000 deaths. If the Centers for Disease Control were to consider preventable medical errors as a sort of disease, then medical errors sixth leading factor responsible for death in America.

Surgical Slips and Bad Doctors Are Commonplace

In the article recently published in The Daily Beast, the author outlines the fact that the problem of surgical slips and terrible doctors is more serious than most people think. He uses several examples to illustrate the fact. One of these examples is the role of medical malpractice in the unwarranted suffering of a woman whose scan reports showed advanced ovarian cancer. The traditional treatment method for the problem is major surgery to remove the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix and ovaries. The woman did not want to go through with this major procedure, preferring instead to be with her family and do a couple of things before she passed away.

Doctors convinced the initially hesitant woman to go for a biopsy to verify the diagnosis, by exaggerating the benefits and understating the possible complications. In the course of the biopsy, the biopsy needle unintentionally pierced an important blood vessel, forcing the woman to stay six weeks more in the hospital. Those six agonizing weeks were marked by multiple CAT scans, blood transfusions and malnutrition because the poor woman was unable to eat most of the time. After those six horrific weeks, the woman lived for just three more weeks. Despite all this, all the doctors could say about the woman’s objection to the fatal biopsy was that doctors had to decide for patients who themselves weren’t sure what they wanted.

In a similar medical mistake incident, a Harvard surgeon began a national surgeon’s conference keynote speech by asking the doctors gathered there to raise their hand if they were aware of any doctor colleague who was not supposed to be practicing because he or she was considered to be too risky. The response was astounding – every single hand went up. If the number of fraudulent or very bad doctors is taken to be 2 percent (actually it is more) of the 1 million doctors t in the US, and if each of these bad physicians usually saw 500 patients every year, it means that 10 million people see bad physicians annually.

Offenders and Complication Rates Are Shielded

A disturbing practice noticed with hospitals in the US is that, even if they are aware of the malpractice happening within their walls, they either shield the offending doctor or punish someone who tries to bring the truth to light. There was the instance of a heart surgeon who caused six consecutive deaths during regular bypass surgery and took several hours longer than the standard operating time for 5 of his last surviving patients, putting them at risk. However, no one seemed to want to report the doctor to anyone, one of the reasons being that he happily did whatever senior surgeons didn’t want to do and also covered their holiday shifts.

A prominent cardiologist was fired after releasing her findings pertaining to her assessment of doctor interpretations of heart-echo tests. She found that 29 percent of the interpretations were incorrect.

The names of doctors known for medical malpractice errors are often kept hidden from the public. The complication rates of various hospitals for various procedures too are not available to the public to view and compare.

Seek Help
You should not be one of the many Americans who don’t report medical mistakes. Report a medical error incident as soon as you experience it. A competent malpractice lawyer can help defend your rights and help you get adequately compensated for the error.

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