Medical Malpractice

“7 Commonly Misdiagnosed Illnesses.” AARP. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. “7 Examples of Medical Negligence.” PersonalInjuryClaimsBlawg RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Fremgen, Bonnie F. “Chapter 6/ Professional Liability and Medical Malpractice.” Medical Law and Ethics. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Julie Levin Alexander, 2012. 133+. Print. “Medical Malpractice.” Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. Walkup, Melodia, Kelly, & Schoenberger, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. “Medical Malpractice.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Merritt, Cam. “What Is Medical Malpractice Insurance? | EHow.” EHow. Demand Media, 03 Apr. 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Olvera, Cristina. “Top 5 Undiagnosed Diseases.” Yahoo Contributor Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. “Under-Diagnosed Diseases.” – N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. There is a standard of care that all physicians and health care professionals must abide by and if that standard is ignored it could lead to a law suite of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is the professional misconduct of an unreasonable lack of skill that results in injury, damage, or loss to the patient.

Approximately 95,000 patients are killed each year due to preventable medical errors. Standards and regulations for medical malpractice vary by country as well does the jurisdiction. Related topics such as negligence, wrongful deaths, undiagnosed and misdiagnosed conditions, and medical malpractice insurance are what I will be informing you about in this report. Some people believe that malpractice and negligence is the same thing, but not all medical mistakes are malpractice. Negligence is less severe than medical malpractice but still a very serious wrongdoing. It is usually an unintentional act that occurs when a health care professional, usually a physician, preforms or fails to preform and action that a reasonable person would or would not have done in a similar scenario. Just like malpractice negligence is a failure to meet the acceptable standard of care, but unlike malpractice, negligence does not always result in injury to the patient.

Charges of negligence against a physician or other healthcare professionals happen because the patient or the family of the patient is not happy with the outcome of the treatment and care that they have received. In order to take a physician to court for negligence the patient must be able to show the responsibility established between the physician and the patient, the neglect of duty that the physician failed to preform, that the injury or problem was closely related to the physician’s negligence, and any injuries caused by the physician. In other words, the patient must prove what is called the “four D’s”- duty, dereliction of duty, direct or proximate cause, and damages. Damages that could occur due to negligence include permanent mental or physical disability, loss of enjoyment of life, past and future loss of earnings, medical and hospital expenses, and pain and suffering. When it comes to medical negligence, no two cases are ever the same. Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose are two of the main causes for medical negligence law suites. This can occur, for example, if a patient’s symptoms are overlooked or have been dismissed when they could have likely been recognized by another ordinary, competent physician. Medical negligence often occurs more frequently in emergency rooms because the doctors have a lot to do in less time and the chances of making mistakes are higher because of the rush. Another example of negligence is when a surgeon makes a mistake during an operation or procedure. This could occur in a patient went into surgery to get his left foot amputated and woke up to find his healthy right foot amputated by mistake.

Prescribing or giving a patient the wrong medication is also a common negligent mistake. This can occur with misdiagnoses or truly by accident. The physician could right down the wrong drug name, the pharmacist could misread the instructions, or the physician could prescribe a medication for a different diagnosis. If a patient’s death was caused by a physician’s negligence, the patient’s family could sue for wrongful death. A wrongful death is the taking of a patient’s death life due to the negligent or willful act by a healthcare professional. Wrongful death statutes vary from state to state and define who may sue and what limits may be applied. To win a wrongful death case the plaintiff must prove that the physician or healthcare professional’s actions was the immediate cause of death. Compensatory damages are the common damages that are awarded in wrongful death case. Punitive damages may be given if the defendant’s actions were particularly reckless. Some states allow the surviving spouse or children of a victim to sue for damages due to pain and suffering they experienced due to the death. Many other states however, put a limit on the amount of money that can be awarded in a wrongful death law suit. Wrongful death lawsuits can be very expensive for the health care professional. The parents who lost their daughter during what was supposed to be a routine lymph node biopsy sued the physician and received $900,000. During the operation, the patient’s oxygen mask caught on fire and resulted in serious burns to her face. While she was recuperating from her burns, doctors attempted an experimental biopsy procedure that was at substantial rush because of the proximity to vital organs. The doctors punctured the patient’s heart during the surgery and she died only minutes later. Another case is of a 55 year contractor died of an undiagnosed aortic dissection.

This was a wrongful death because he spent 36 hours in the hospital without ever being seen by the cardiologist. Undiagnosed conditions are common for what may have either no symptoms or only mild symptoms. It can also occur for conditions that are rare and simply do not get considered by patients and their doctors. Another reason for undiagnosed conditions is lack of knowledge or understanding of a condition either by the patient or the physician. Hemochromatosis, Lyme disease, celiac disease is the top three most commonly undiagnosed diseases that occur today. Hemochromatosis goes undiagnosed because the early symptoms include stiff joints and fatigue which are similar to many other more common conditions. Lyme disease, although extremely common, goes undiagnosed because of the many manifestations of the disease and the limited blood tests. Celiac disease is one of the greatest mimics of gastroenterology and also mimics conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome which make diagnosis more difficult.

Misdiagnosis is an inaccurate assessment of a patient’s condition that occurs because of medical error and is preventable. It could be very harmful to the patient especially if medication is prescribed. The top three misdiagnosed illness include lupus, Parkinson’s disease, and fibromyalgia. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease and includes symptoms such as fatigue, rash, joint pain, and kidney, heart, or lung damage. It is misdiagnosed because it mimics chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system and includes symptoms such as tremors, stiff muscles, and problems balancing or walking. It is misdiagnosed because it mimics Alzheimer’s, stroke, traumatic head injury, and essential tremor. Fibromyalgia is a chronic arthritis-like disorder characterized by widespread pain and includes symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It is misdiagnosed because it mimics rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Medical malpractice insurance protects physicians and other healthcare providers from a lawsuit related to their practice of medicine. The insurance pays the cost of defending providers from malpractice lawsuits and pays damages rewarded by court.

Medical malpractice insurance is very expensive depending on the type of medical practice, costing over $100,000 per year. Every state requires doctors to carry medical malpractice insurance in order to practice medicine but in some states a doctor can go without it in certain circumstances. All licensed medical professional should carry malpractice insurance. Unlicensed healthcare professionals are usually covered under the employers insurance. But although diagnostic medical sonographers are considered unlicensed, if they want to be under their own policy, they could apply online for endorsed diagnostic medical sonographer malpractice insurance. There are two types of major medical malpractice insurance and they include claims-made insurance and occurrence insurance. Claims-made insurance covers the healthcare professional for the claims made while the policy is in effect. Occurrence insurance covers the healthcare professional for all injuries and incidents that occurred while the policy was in effect regardless of when they reported the malpractice or the claim was made. If an injury occurred in one year but the claim for insurance was made a year later, then the claim would be denied in a claims-made insurance policy. Under an occurrence insurance policy if an injury occurred the year the policy was in effect and the claim was made two years later, than the claim would be covered.

Occurrence insurance tends to be a little more pricy than claims-made insurance. This is because the healthcare professional or employer that is under the occurrence insurance policy is pre-paying for the tail cost even if it does not get used. Malpractice insurance is very important especially as a physician, although it is expensive, in the long run it could be worth it. In conclusion, medical malpractice can be a serious, severe, and expensive crime. Negligence, wrongful death, and misdiagnosed and undiagnosed conditions are all branches of malpractice that are covered under malpractice insurance.

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