Once Johns Hopkins declared that medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the U.S., we saw a decided uptick in the questions our clients would ask about what, exactly, constitutes a medical error. We also noticed more and more people talking about the safety of the procedures they undergo, and wondering who might be responsible if a mistake occurs.
A recent study by The Doctor’s Company regarding “high severity injuries,” as reported by Becker Hospital Review, finds that internists are “more likely to face medical malpractice lawsuits for high severity injuries than any other physicians.” The study, which reviewed 1,180 malpractice claims filed between 2007 and 2014, said that 58% of all claims against internists cite high-severity injuries.
For the record, the American College of Physicians defines an internist as a doctor who trains specifically to learn “how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases that affect adults.” Doctors who practice general internal medicine are usually brought in for diagnostic consultations – a bit like the television character Dr. House, without all the drama – because they “are equipped to handle the broad and comprehensive spectrum of illnesses that affect adults, and are recognized as experts in diagnosis, in treatment of chronic illness, and in health promotion and disease prevention—they are not limited to one type of medical problem or organ system.”
It is against these types of doctors that most medical malpractice claims are brought. According to the study, 90% of those claims involved one of these three allegations:
- Mistakes in diagnoses. 39% of all claims studied listed a diagnostic error: failure to diagnose, a delay in diagnosis, incorrect diagnosis, etc.
- Mistakes in treatment. 32% of the claims studied said that the patient was unhappy with how, when or why medical treatment was given.
- Mistakes with medication. 19% of the claims said a medication error was made – like a failure to properly address potential side effects – by the internist.
All told, the researchers reviewed cases citing 84 different kinds of injuries. Nearly half of those claims (44%) were for the death of the patient. These are serious claims, and identifying where mistakes are most likely to occur could go a long way in putting an end to them, once and for all.
At Plaxen & Adler, P.A., we have devoted more than 30 years to helping protect victims of medical malpractice in Maryland. To learn more about your options and your rights, or to speak with an experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyer about your case, please call 410.505.8855 or fill out our contact form.