Avoiding medical malpractice lawsuits is an inherent concern for all physicians and healthcare facilities. With more than 20,000 medical malpractice claims filed annually, and more than 120,000 cases of medical negligence reported, preventing such liability is a top priority for all healthcare personnel. Malpractice claims account for roughly 15% of the wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed in the US each year. Healthcare providers can train staff to prevent lawsuits by reviewing the top 5 reasons why doctors face medical malpractice lawsuits.
1. Injuring a Patient During Treatment
Almost one third of physicians have faced lawsuits for causing patient injury during the course of treatment. Such cases are typically filed when the injury results in disability or death, although they can result from minor injuries as well. Common hospital and clinic acquired injuries include bedsores, falls and other impact-related injuries (i.e. – strains and fractures), and secondary infections caused by negligence or improper patient hygiene practices. Patient injuries are some of the most common issues dealt with by specialist medical malpractice lawyers.
2. Failure to Properly Diagnose
More than 30% of doctors have faced a malpractice lawsuit due to the improper diagnosis of a patient’s condition. Thus, it’s imperative for doctors to become familiar with the guidelines for diagnostic screening and testing, especially those that call for the confirmation of the initial diagnoses. Misdiagnosing a patient can lead to serious complications due to the postponed treatment of their actual condition. Furthermore, there’s also the risk of adverse reactions to wrongly prescribed medications and procedures. Doctors need to be confident in their diagnosis or refer the case to a specialist as soon possible to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit.
3. Improper Treatment of a Patient’s Condition
Properly diagnosing a patient is only the first half of the equation. Improperly treating a patient’s condition can lead to complications that give rise to medical lawsuits. Doctors should be careful to closely follow treatment protocols and ensure that all nursing staff are knowledgeable about such issues as well.Healthcare-acquired infections(HAIs)– illnesses acquired during the process of treatment – have become a more widespread problem than the flu, tuberculosis, and HIV. Delaying treatment or failing to inform the patient about critical details could also lead to a lawsuit related to improper treatment.
4. Medication Prescription Errors
Prescribing the wrong medications or doses is another highly common cause for medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors. Medication related errors result in the accidental death of almost 100,000 patients each year. Additionally, millions more are injured or driven further into poor health through improper medication prescriptions or administration practices.
5. Inadequate or Inaccurate Medical Documentation
Poor documentation is the 5th most common cause of medical malpractice lawsuits faced by physicians in the US. Failing to record and store critical information in the patent’s electronic health record (EHR) can lead to mistakes made by future care providers. Doctors are advised to utilize the assistance of medical scribes to ensure full and accurate documentation.
Working with Patients Can Rectify Some Issues
Although facing a malpractice suit can be intimidating, sometimes it’s possible to fix the situation before a claim is filed.Thus, it’s best to contact the patient and review all options before conceding to a court proceeding.