What Can Go Wrong in a Hospital?

If you’re one of those people who get physically uncomfortable in hospitals, it’s understandable – hospitals are not fun places to be. Beyond the natural discomfort that a lot of people feel and the “white coat syndrome,” the medical mistakes that happen within hospital walls give thousands of people each year another reason to dislike hospitals.

Hospitals and the doctors and nurses that work in them are certainly here to help us, but we cannot ignore the fact that while people’s lives are saved in hospitals, some people’s lives are taken away because of the mistakes made in them.

What can go wrong in a hospital? A lot can go wrong, and unfortunately medical negligence is a serious cause for concern in the United States today.

Hospitals are chaotic environments, and many of the residents on staff work long shifts on very little sleep. Sleep deprivation alone can cause well-meaning doctors to make serious, life-threatening mistakes.

Common medical errors in hospitals, include:

  • Wrong diagnoses made in an emergency room
  • Delayed diagnoses in an emergency room
  • Anesthesia errors (too much or too little medication)
  • Medical equipment that malfunctions
  • Medication errors, such as wrong medication or wrong dose
  • Poor post-operative care
  • Surgical errors, such as cutting the wrong organ
  • Misdiagnoses in an emergency room
  • Failure to inform a patient of the risks of surgery
  • Etc.

How big is the problem? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), in the United States, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death, following heart disease and cancer. In 2012 alone, medical malpractice payouts exceeded $3 billion – shocking!

What is medical malpractice?

When something goes wrong and a patient is injured or killed in the hospital setting and the cause was medical negligence, it’s called “medical malpractice.” What constitutes medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is when a healthcare provide delivers substandard care and the patient is wrongfully injured or killed as a result. Essentially, it comes down to simple negligence.

For example, let’s say that a woman arrives at a hospital in labor. She is taken to obstetrics and delivery (OR) and given Pitocin to help speed up her labor. The problem is, there aren’t any doctors available to deliver the baby.

The OB on duty is in surgery and unavailable, even though the woman is ready to deliver. The attending nurse “refuses” to deliver the woman’s baby and the Pitocin puts so much stress on the unborn child and the uterus that the baby suffers oxygen deprivation.

Too much time elapses and the woman’s baby suffers irreversible brain damage because no one at the hospital ensured that an OB delivered the baby in a timely manner. Had an OB been available to deliver the child when the mother was ready, the brain damage could have been entirely prevented.

While this may seem unlikely, we assure these type of scenarios can and do happen every day from the ICU to recovery, to the OR to the ER.

If you were injured because of medical errors made while receiving care at a hospital, we urge you to contact our Columbia personal injury attorneys for professional, legal assistance.

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