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Who can Commit Medical Malpractice?

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Medical malpractice happens when a health care professional is considered negligent in their duty of care. It can be incredibly difficult to prove cases of medical malpractice, but it is important for people to try because some cases are so serious. We put our trust in our medical professionals and when they get things wrong, the consequences are often terrible and can include death or permanent disability.

How often Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
In the USA, some 160,000 deaths a year are believed to be caused by medical malpractice. However, not all medical malpractice cases end in deaths. Between 1986 and 2010, some $38.8 billion was paid out in compensation. This indicates that there are many other medical errors that do not necessarily end in death. Interestingly, there are only around 19,000 medical malpractice suits, which means only 10% of deaths are represented in court, again not counting any other types of medical malpractice.

Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice
It is believed that every doctor in the USA will face some form of medical malpractice complaint at least once in their career. Not all of these end in a lawsuit and those that do end up in a lawsuit don’t always end in a payout. The most common reasons for medical malpractice suits are:
• Sexual misconduct
• Standard of care
• Unprofessional conduct

The most common medical professions for these cases to occur in are
• General practitioners (62%)
• Psychiatrists (14%)
Surgeons (9%)

Medical malpractice in hospitals are usually related to:
• Wrong dosage of medication
• Wrong medication
• Leaving surgical items inside the body
• Wrong diagnosis
• Operating an incorrect part
• Back pain following surgery
• Staph infections
• Bedsores

When Is a Medical Malpractice Suit Considered?
Not all cases of medical malpractice are considered. They have to at least be able to demonstrate that:
• It can be demonstrated that a proper standard of care was not delivered.
• It can be shown that any injury was actually due to negligence on the part of the medical practitioner.
• The consequences of the injury have to have serious consequences.
• No informed consent had been given when this was needed.

An Example of Medical Malpractice Case
A recent news item reported on the death of a very well-known radio presenter. She had been receiving injections in her buttocks to make them firmer and more pert. However, the products used in these injections were actually poisonous. Before dying, the DJ lost her hands and feet to gangrene, before eventually succumbing to the poisons and losing her life.

This case has caused a huge medical malpractice debate. Some say that it is a clear case of medical malpractice, others say that the DJ is herself to blame. They feel that the radio DJ should have taken better care when choosing her plastic surgeon and should have done more research herself about what she was actually being injected with.

What are your views on this? If someone were to ask you what is medical malpractice, what would you answer them? Have you been involved in a medical malpractice case, either as a patient (or relative of) or as a medical professional? Please share your stories.

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