Trust is the basis of the medical profession. You trust your doctor to diagnose you correctly, treat you appropriately and above all do no harm. Medical professionals, from surgeons to physiotherapists, offer an invaluable service and for the most part do an excellent job of looking after our health as a nation, but negligence is possible and in fact, more than $3,7 billion was paid to victims of medical malpractice in 2014. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one in 14 doctors face malpractice law suits every year.
More than 220,000 people die as a result of medical malpractice, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Another study by the Journal of Patient Safety, puts the number closer to 440,000. Almost half of all birth injuries could be avoided by identification and planning for obstetrical risk factors. Under the law, medical malpractice refers to any interference with medical care caused by the negligence of the medical professional that causes injury or death to a patient.
Most medical malpractice cases (33%) are a result of incorrect diagnosis, followed closely by surgery mistakes (24%) and treatment (19%). Errors in obstetrics account for 11% of payouts. The New England Journal of Medicine analyzed 1,452 randomly selected malpractice cases in 2006 in the United States and found that 97% of cases resulted from a medical injury and 66% were related to a mistake on the part of the medical professionals.
While many associate medical malpractice with wrongful death cases, the reality is that medical malpractice results in 10 to 20 times as many cases of serious harm as reported deaths, according to the Journal of Patient Safety. Only 30% of medical malpractice cases result in death. You should also remember that not all mistakes amount to medical negligence. Medical malpractice lawyers can help you through the process of a medical malpractice claim. The onus is on the claimant to prove that the medical professional failed to meet the required basic standards of care. Expert medical witnesses are usually called on both sides in this regard.
Trials themselves, though are rare. Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show that only 7% of such cases actually make it to trial, with the vast majority being settled before ever reaching the court room. This does not necessarily mean that all of these cases are resolved in favor of the plaintiff, but many result in a negotiated settlement. Research more here.