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Council Wooten
Council Wooten
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Key Facts About Medical Malpractice and Avoidable Medical Errors

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According to the Public Citizen’s Civil Justice Project Summer/Fall 2011 consumer issue, the epidemic of medical errors must be addressed. One in seventeen Medicare inpatients experience a serious but avoidable medical error. Additionally, medical malpractice kills an estimated 250,000 patients annually in the United States, says the consumer group’s report.

A medical malpractice case can be quite complex for a variety of reasons, including the number of medical professionals and facilities involved in a patient’s care, as well as if the patient suffered permanent injury or even wrongful death. The epidemic of medical errors could be stopped by employing safety practices including using checklists for surgical procedures and checklists to prevent catheter infections. A checklist for surgical procedures could save 85,000 lives and $35 billion annually. Similarly, a checklist to prevent catheter infections would save 15,680 lives and $1.3 billion a year.

Misdiagnosis is also a factor in a medical malpractice case and quite common. A study of Patient Safety Incidents by HealthGrades found that Failure to Rescue, meaning failure to diagnose and treat in time, was the most common cause of a patient safety incident, with a rate of 155 per 1,000 patients.

Total physician liability premiums in 2009 were just 0.46 percent of overall health costs, or $10.96 billion, but there were only 10,772 payments to malpractice victims in 2009, the lowest number on record. Payments to malpractice victims in 2009 totaled just $3.5 billion.

The consumer group Public Citizen also analyzes several studies of treatment protocols for chronically recurring, but avoidable medical errors. A study carefully designed to elicit fear of liability from high-risk practitioners by presenting them with high-risk scenarios, found that doctors based decisions primarily on liability concerns just eight percent of the time. Also, analysis found that in 2006, sixty one percent of Medicare reimbursements for MRIs and sixty four percent for CT scans were self-referrals, with self-referring physicians being seven times more likely to order radiology tests on a patient.

An Orlando injury lawyer can provide guidance if you have been injured because of a medical center, healthcare professional or a hospital’s negligence.