Patients every day undergo routine medical procedures like biopsies or medical image testing. These procedures are described as primary medical procedures and they should be simple routine tasks that doctors become very skilled at performing. Unfortunately, a recent study indicates that out of 1,500 non-surgical medical malpractice claims made between 2007 and 2011, six common procedures were responsible for many of the allegations made against medical providers.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Louisville knows that doctors are expected to provide reasonable quality care commensurate with their background and experience. A physician who performs a basic test day-in-and-day out is expected to be capable of performing that procedure without causing harm, and a patient who is injured by his failure to do so may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against the negligent or careless physician.
Routine Procedures Top Causes of Malpractice Claims
A recent report entitled Malpractice Risks of Routine Medical Procedures shed light on the extent of the dangers associated with routine medical testing and treatment. The report was published on PR News Wire and the data for the report was collected from a database of 275,000 medical malpractice cases from 500 different hospitals.
From the report, a total of 1,500 malpractice claims not related to surgical procedures were examined in detail. These claims had resulted in $215 million in total payouts for medical malpractice injuries and the majority were caused by injuries or problems during:
- Tube insertion
- Medical imaging
When mistakes were made, skill-based errors accounted for around nine out of 10 of the malpractice claims. Other problems that resulted in malpractice claims resulting from these routine procedures including a failure of healthcare facilities to institute appropriate policies and procedural rules to protect patients undergoing treatment.
The problems that resulted from the failure of the provider and the facility were sometimes very serious. While around 2/3 of patients suffered injuries described as “minor,” a total of 14 percent of the reported errors resulted in the death of the patient who had undergone the treatment.
There were many possible explanations for this high risk of mistakes in routine procedures, including the fact that routine procedures are increasingly being performed in outpatient settings rather than being performed in hospitals. The chance of problems may be greater in these settings where there are fewer formal procedures and less oversight. The bottom line, though, is no matter where a procedure is performed, doctors should not provide any type of medical testing or treatment unless they are confident they can do it right and not risk hurting the patient.
As the report authors indicate, “analyzing malpractice data offers health care providers opportunities to change specific clinical systems or clinical behaviors and reduce those dominant risks.” Now that the risks have been identified, hopefully physicians and care facilities will be able to make changes to decrease the chance of injury or death in routine testing and care.
Victims who do experience harm as a result of a botched medical procedure should seek legal help with a malpractice claim.