When you're sick, you expect to be able to go to the hospital and receive the care you need to get well. Unfortunately, a study has proven that nearly 400,000 people are harmed while under care each and every year in the United States. Simply doing your best to choose the right hospital isn't necessarily the answer, either; these numbers were spread over all hospitals, and weren't limited to a specific regional area. Learn about which errors may qualify you for a lawsuit in the article below.
Easily one of the most common mistakes made by hospitals, drug errors can be devastating. When a patient is given a medication that isn't right for his or her treatment, the treatment will obviously fail.
Sometimes, the issue is related to what the patient shouldn't have rather than what they aren't given. Allergies and sensitivities may be overlooked, causing dangerous reactions. Drugs can also be delivered improperly via the wrong routes. In other cases, medication names are close enough to cause confusion--the FDA's factsheet on confusion between risperdal and ropinirole is the perfect example.
In some cases, wrongful death can occur as a direct result of these errors. In other cases, treatment is complicated or extended because of the failure, causing undue hardship and suffering.
False Positive or Negative Laboratory Results
It is possible to get false positive or negative results when testing blood, tissue and other samples. When this happens, patients are frequently misdiagnosed with the wrong disease. Sometimes, they may not be diagnosed at all. In the case of heart disease, cancer, and immune system disorders, this can give the illness just enough time to become severe enough that treatment may become difficult or impossible.
While false positives and negatives are becoming less common over time, thanks to better testing standards, the fact that human error cannot be perfectly managed means that it's not likely to be eradicated any time soon. Further, nearly all current testing methods have at least a 1-2 percent margin of error.
In order to succeed with a suit for an issue like this, your lawyer will need to prove that the false test directly caused harm to you in some way. This can be as simple as preventing or delaying appropriate treatment, or it can cover something as serious as wrongful death of a loved one.
Following testing failures, misdiagnosis can occur for a broad range of other reasons, too. While doctors receive years of training, they are still human, and human error is a real danger in hospital settings. Add to this the complexity of many patient cases and it's easy to see how mistakes can be made.
Consider this hypothetical situation:
A patient comes in with severe breathing difficulties, chills, a fever, and a bad cough. A doctor comes into the room and makes a diagnosis of bronchitis, based on listening to the lungs. The patient is sent home with antibiotics and told to rest and drink plenty of fluids. A few days later, the patient returns and is much worse. After an X-ray, viral pneumonia is discovered. Had the x-ray been completed initially, it may have been discovered early on. Because treatment is delayed, the patient doesn't recover and eventually passes away.
This situation would qualify for a lawsuit because the doctor should have checked the lungs for fluid at the first visit.
Nevertheless, not every missed diagnosis qualifies for a law suit.
In order for misdiagnosis to be proven in a personal injury suit, your lawyer needs to prove that you had a direct doctor-patient relationship with the doctor you are suing. He or she also needs to make it clear that the doctor's negligence is what directly led to harm. Without this, misdiagnosis can be determined to be a faultless mistake.
Nowhere is uncontained infection more of an issue than in EBOLA field hospitals. Struggling against misinformation that causes patients to avoid coming to the hospital for isolation, the virus spread quickly at first, infecting and killing entire villages.
While you aren't likely to contract EBOLA in the United States, you can contract other pathogens. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is an excellent example.
Because this infection can only be spread via skin-to-skin contact, it's easily controlled with the right hygiene and safety protocols. Nurses wear gloves and masks, and all care professionals should wash their hands thoroughly with antimicrobial soap before changing patients.
The problem comes when these protocols are overlooked for the sake of speed--it can be easy for professionals to forget when a crisis situation takes place. All it takes is one moment of contact, and suddenly, the care professional is carrying the MRSA pathogen on.
Because the care professional is most likely to come in contact with other professionals, who then come into contact with patients who are already sick and vulnerable, situations like this can explode very quickly. Add to this that many other highly-contagious hospital-acquired pathogens exist, and it's not surprising that lawsuits sometimes occur.
In order to succeed with lawsuit based on uncontrolled infection in a hospital setting, your lawyer will need to prove that the hospital was negligent in treating you. This may involve an internal review, testing of care professionals, or the involvement of the Center for Disease Control.
When it comes to keeping yourself well while in hospital, you are your own best advocate. Understanding your rights when you have been injured or harmed in the line of treatment is an important way to ensure that you get the right care. If you suspect that you may have been harmed by a hospital, contact a personal injury attorney today for unique advice that pertains to your specific details.