The Usual Suspects of Medical Malpractice

by Terry Bryant

Most doctors do their best to give patients care that meets the standards of the medical community. It’s a difficult job filled with long, demanding hours. It’s not surprising, given the stressful nature of the job, that doctors make mistakes. In fact, one study found that medical errors result in 250,000 patient deaths every year.

In some cases, these mistakes can lead to medical malpractice claims — legal action taken by patients to recover financial compensation for harm caused by medical negligence. You might think that because there are so many instances of medical error every year, there would also be a high number of medical malpractice claims, but that’s not the case. Most cases of medical error do not result in legal action.

When medical malpractice claims are filed, it is usually because significant harm has been suffered by a patient. These claims aren’t easy or inexpensive undertakings, so patients and attorneys are reluctant to file claims unless negligence is clear. In other words, if a claim is filed, it’s an indication that something big has happened.

1% of Doctors, 1/3 of Claims

Another recent study suggests that only 1% of doctors are involved in around one-third of paid medical malpractice claims. Once a doctor has been involved in one of these claims, they are more likely to be involved in future claims. Researchers behind the study hope that by identifying doctors more prone to malpractice claims, the medical community might be able to intervene before patients suffer harm.

The study also tells us some other information about physicians who are more likely to have a malpractice claim filed against them. They are more likely to be male and over the age of 35. They are also more likely to practice certain types of medicine. For example, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, and obstetrician-gynecologists have nearly double the risk of being involved in a medical malpractice claim.

What Patients Should Take Away from the Study

In a CBS News story about the study, the Senior Vice President for quality, safety, and risk prevention at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville offered words of advice based on his experience examining these types of claims. He said that patients should seek facilities and professionals that promote a culture of safety in which patients have a mechanism that allows them the opportunity to speak up and complain about inadequate care.

Unfortunately, studies like the one mentioned above aren’t conducted frequently. Our medical institutions should be more proactive about weeding out physicians or practices that cause patients serious harm. Patients should be mindful of these shortcomings in our healthcare system so they can be more vigilant when choosing where they get their healthcare. Sadly, many patients live in areas or encounter circumstances that limit their options of care, and they are forced to take what they can, when they can.

If you or a loved one has suffered from medical error in Texas and you’d like to explore your legal options, contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law. Our team has years of experience helping clients get the compensation they deserve in medical malpractice claims. These cases can be complex, but a skilled medical malpractice attorney knows what to investigate, how to build a case, and how to try to obtain the desired outcome for their clients.

To schedule a free consultation with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, contact us today by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 1 (800) 444-5000 or locally in the Houston area at (713) 973-8888.