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Medical malpractice is a serious issue affecting patients and healthcare providers across Pennsylvania and the nation. Examining medical malpractice statistics provides valuable insight into the prevalence and impact of medical errors within the U.S. healthcare system.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in his or her profession, resulting in harm to the patient. These errors include many actions, from surgical mistakes to misdiagnoses and medication errors.
The prevalence of medical malpractice
According to research, patients file between 15,000 and 18,000 medical malpractice claims against physicians annually. Many of these claims stem from similar circumstances. Medical misdiagnoses, for example, are a leading cause of medical malpractice claims. Inaccurate or delayed diagnoses can cause serious harm to a patient and in some cases, lead to death. Studies show that about one in five patients with a serious medical condition has his or her doctor misdiagnose that condition.
Surgical procedures are another common cause of medical malpractice claims, with U.S. patients reporting about 4,000 surgical errors annually. These errors may include operating on the wrong body part, leaving foreign objects inside the patient or damaging nearby organs while performing surgery.
Medication mistakes are also common, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration receiving more than 100,000 reports of medication errors each year. These errors may involve prescribing the wrong medication, administering incorrect dosages or failing to consider potential drug interactions.
The consequences of medical malpractice
Medical malpractice may have devastating consequences for patients. Aside from physical harm, patients may suffer emotionally and financially. Many people affected by medical malpractice experience prolonged pain and suffering. They may, too, find it difficult or impossible to earn a living due to the effect the medical errors had on their lives.
While many doctors work hard to provide quality care, errors can and do occur. Medical mistakes may have a notable and negative impact on a patient’s quality of life and the lives of a patient’s loved ones.