Doctors are trusted and respected figures in our society, and for good reason. In a majority of cases, physicians and surgeons are experts in patient care, who dedicate their lives to saving lives. However, even the very best doctors sometimes make mistakes, but when do those mistakes constitute medical malpractice?
Medical errors happen surprisingly often, with an estimated 98,000 American deaths caused by preventable medical errors every year. Of those deaths, 7,000 are caused by medication errors. Medical malpractice, however, is much less common. Not only that, but a considerable amount of misinformation surrounds this legal issue. Read on to learn about four common misconceptions about medical malpractice claims.
Myth #1: Medical Malpractice Claims are Mostly Frivolous
Contrary to this belief, according to a study from Harvard, about 97% of cases requiring a medical malpractice lawyer were made by a party who suffered a physical injury. Only 3% of cases could be considered minor or unimportant.
Myth #2: Medical Malpractice Claims Drive Up Everyone’s Insurance Rates
Insurance premiums are actually much more related to the insurance industry’s economic cycle. There is little conclusive evidence supporting the belief that insurance prices are lower in states that cap malpractice damages. Overall, medical malpractice claims make up less than 1% of all U.S. healthcare and insurance costs, so there is little connection between insurance premiums and malpractice claims.
Myth #3: Medical Accidents Are Impossible to Prevent
Although mistakes will likely never completely disappear, a large portion of medical errors are preventable. Scenarios that should never happen–such as a foreign object being left in the body after surgery, or the wrong surgery being performed on a patient–happen more than 4,000 times every year according to John Hopkins University. Simple solutions exist, like tracking devices and material counts, but not enough hospitals employ and enforce such precautions.
Myth #4: Patients Who File Claims Are Just Looking for Cash
Despite stories of massive, million-dollar payouts to malpractice victims, a majority of cases are much smaller. Large medical malpractice settlements are only common in cases involving wrongful deaths, injured infants, and serious life-long injuries. As a Harvard study found, in most cases individuals file claims seeking answers and not payment. Since hospitals have adopted apology practices and have become more open about honest mistakes, malpractice claims have decreased. In other words, only those who have truly been harmed by medical errors pursue legal recourse.
Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences. When exploring your legal options, be sure that you know fact from fiction regarding the legal process. If you’re looking for a trusted medical malpractice lawyer in central Illinois, contact the Steigmann Law team today to get the answers to your questions.