There is a strong public perception that hospital deaths caused by malpractice are less than in reality. According to the Institute of Medicine, at least 44,000, and as many as 98,000 people die each year as a result of preventable hospital errors. In 2002, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a majority of the public and doctors share a common misconception – that the number of hospital deaths due to medical errors is less than the actual numbers reported to the Institute of Medicine.
How Hospital & Emergency Room Errors Occur
One of the most common reasons hospital and emergency rooms negligence occurs is the failure to properly implement or update hospital systems, protocols, and processes. This failure can directly lead to mistakes or leads to a failure to catch mistakes.
The vast majority of hospitals are private, for-profit institutions and therefore often implement budget cuts to churn higher profits. When this happens, staff are stretched too thin, overworked and more inclined to make mistakes. This, coupled with failure to implement proper systems and processes, can lead to mistakes and in the worst cases, deaths due to medical negligence.
Examples of Failures in Hospital & Emergency Room Processes Leading to Medical Negligence
One common kind of mistake is operating on the wrong body part. Several years ago, there were many cases of surgeons operating on the wrong body part, an obvious mistake. Hospitals then began implementing procedures and processes to prevent this kind of error from happening. For instance, many hospitals now require staff to actually write on the body part that is supposed to be operated on and require multiple confirmations before the operation actually begins.
Diagnostic errors are increasingly common. Radiology and imaging departments often fail to have proper notification procedures for when a study reveals a life-threatening finding. For example, an EKG may show a myocardial infarction (heart attack), but the wrong results are transmitted to the cardiologist, or the correct results are not transmitted in a timely manner. It is not uncommon for a hospital to mix up a patient’s records. This is especially true in situations when hospital staff is overworked and an outdated system fails to transmit the correct information.
Another common mistake is a surgeon who leaves instruments or equipment inside a surgical patient. A sponge or small needle may be left inside the patient and the patient sutured before anyone realizes the mistake. This occurs when improper hospital procedures lead to mistakes in equipment and surgical material handling at the end of a surgery.
Related Pennsylvania hospital/emergency room malpractice legal articles:
- Pennsylvania Hospital Medical Malpractice Law – Theories of Negligence Against Hospitals
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Hospital Emergency Room Malpractice Law – The Statute of Limitations
- Proving Emergency Room Mistake & Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Hospital & Emergency Room Malpractice Law Firm
For more information, contact our Pennsylvania & New Jersey hospital emergency room lawyers at 215.925.4451. For nearly 30 years, our law firm has been seeking justice for patients and their families across the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. Our lawyers are available for a free, no obligation legal consultation.
The lawyers at Schwartz & Blackman handle hospital and emergency room malpractice cases in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area:
- PA: Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Norristown, Philadelphia
- NJ: Atlantic County, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Camden, Cherry Hill, New Jersey shore cities
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Published: October 3, 2012October 3, 2012