Hospital negligence is a regrettably common occurrence. A 2010 report by HealthGrades, found that, over a three year period (2000, 2001 and 2002), an average of 195,000 people died each year due to potentially preventable medical errors that took place in hospitals.
Hospital Negligence Can be Committed by Nurses, Doctors and Other Staff
When most people think of hospital negligence, they automatically think of improper medical care provided by a doctor. However, hospital negligence can be committed by any member of a hospital staff – including pharmacists, nurses, aides and other staff.
Commonly Reported Examples of Hospital Negligence
Most people are familiar with the below types of medical malpractice committed in a hospital setting:
Infections can occur for many reasons: failure of doctors and nurses to wash their hands or follow other sanitary procedures; use of unsterilized or improperly sterilized equipment; and airborne illness.
Operation-related Hospital Errors
There are many common operation-related or surgical errors which occur in hospital settings. Typical examples include:
Surgical tools left inside the body
This type of medical error occurs when the surgeon completes a surgery or other medical procedure and does not remove all devices, equipment or other items from the patient’s body. While it is rare for a scalpel or other large piece of equipment to be left behind, other smaller types of “medical debris” can cause injury, such as sponges, medical threads and staples.
Tearing or other injury to internal organs during an operation
A common type of hospital negligence occurs when the surgeon cuts unintended tissue or organs.
Using unsterilized, defective, or improper equipment
Medical negligence also occurs when doctors, nurses and other medical professionals use unsterilized, defective or improper equipment.
Diagnosis-related Hospital Errors
The final category of common medical errors in a hospital setting involve bad decision-making.
Misinterpreting Test and Lab Results
Doctors often base their medical decisions on results from tests and lab results. A common type of hospital negligence occurs when a doctor, in a hospital setting, misinterprets these test results or lab results.
Doctors can make improper diagnoses outside of reviewing test or lab results. There are many reasons for such improper diagnoses, including insufficient training or education within a specialty and exhaustion.
Hospital Mistakes You Don’t Often Hear About
While people often hear about the above types of hospital negligence, there are several other types of hospital negligence that people do not often hear about. Less commonly reported examples include:
Medication-related Hospital Errors
This type of malpractice can occur when a doctor prescribes the wrong type of medication. This type of error can also occur when the nurse administers the wrong medication (even though the doctor prescribed the right medication)
This type of medical malpractice occurs when a doctor prescribes too much of the right type of medication.
Multiple, Cross Interacting Medications
This type of hospital negligence occurs when a patient is prescribed several different medications which have negative cross interactions between or among the medications. While this type of malpractice can occur when a single doctor prescribes several types of medication, the most common example is when several doctors are involved (each with their own specialties) and the doctors do not have sufficient education or training to understanding how the medication prescribed by each may negatively interact.
Operation-related Hospital Errors
Every year people are injured when the wrong person is operated on. Such errors often take place in the chaos of emergency rooms where communication can sometimes be confused.
Wrong body part
More frequently (than the wrong person being operated on) is the hospital mistake of operating on the wrong part of a person. Medical professionals who themselves must undergo an operation – and are aware of this problem – often go to extreme lengths to guard against this type of medical malpractice. Hospital professionals tell colorful stories of patients (especially nurses) who undergo surgery with large hand written messages and arrows – pointing to the correct body part to be operated on.
Other Types of Hospital Errors
This article has touched on only some of the many types of lesser-known hospital negligence. Additional examples include:
Giving the wrong type of food or drink to a patient
This type of error can be especially dangerous when a patient has an allergy or is diabetic.
Patients can be severely injured when medical professions fail to communicate new patient symptoms, complaints, or concerns to doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff.
Failure to keep proper records
Closely related to poor communication is the failure to maintain good records. When doctors and nurses rely on faulty records, they can mis-diagnosis and/or mistreat a patient.
Why Does Hospital Negligence Go Unreported?
There are many reasons why hospital negligence is under-reported.
- Only 20 states mandate that medical errors must be reported.
- Doctors, nurses and hospitals may fear that, if they report their own errors, their careers will be negatively affected.
- Doctors, nurses and hospitals may fear that, if they report a colleague’s errors, they may be subject to retaliation.
What to Do if You Have Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice in a Hospital Setting?
We hope that you and your loved ones are never the victim of hospital negligence. However, if this happens, be sure to contact a trusted Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice Lawyer to determine if you or your loved ones need legal representation. Hal Waldman & Associates has been helping injured people for over 30 years. Call us at 866-586-8235 for a quick consultation — so that we can quickly help you determine if you would benefit from legal counsel. The call is free and puts you under no obligation. We want to help you!