July is Medical Malpractice Awareness Month – an annual observance designed to raise awareness of this serious issue in the United States. While most healthcare professionals strive to provide high-quality care, medical errors and instances of substandard care do occur, leading to patient harm.
How Serious Is Medical Malpractice?
In 2016 the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a study by Makary and Daniel titled “Medical error—the third leading cause of death in the US,” which aimed to estimate the number of deaths in the United States attributable to medical errors.
The researchers analyzed previous studies, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other sources to calculate a range of estimates. Their analysis led them to conclude that medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer.
After publishing, the study’s findings sparked debate and criticism within the medical community and among researchers. Some experts questioned the methodology and accuracy of attributing specific deaths solely to medical errors.
While it is challenging to determine the exact number of medical malpractice cases, the study drew attention to the issue of patient safety and subsequent research and analysis have continued to explore and refine estimates of deaths due to medical errors.
Why Should We Care About Medical Malpractice?
Paying attention to medical malpractice is crucial for patient safety, accountability, quality improvement, transparency, trust, and driving necessary reforms in the healthcare system. It can help protect patients from harm, improve the quality of care, and foster a culture of safety and accountability in healthcare.
- Patient Safety: Medical malpractice directly affects patient safety and well-being. By paying attention to medical malpractice, we can identify areas where patient safety is compromised, understand the causes of medical errors, and take measures to prevent them. This helps protect patients from harm and ensures that they receive the best possible care.
- Accountability and Justice: Medical malpractice cases hold healthcare providers and institutions accountable for their actions. Paying attention to medical malpractice helps ensure that negligent or substandard care does not go unnoticed or unaddressed. It allows patients to seek justice, receive compensation for damages, and helps maintain trust in the healthcare system.
- Quality Improvement: Monitoring medical malpractice cases helps identify areas where improvements are needed in healthcare delivery. By analyzing patterns and root causes of malpractice incidents, healthcare organizations can implement measures to improve processes, enhance safety protocols, and reduce the occurrence of medical errors. This leads to better overall healthcare quality and patient outcomes.
- Transparency and Trust: Transparency is crucial in maintaining trust between patients and healthcare providers. By being aware of medical malpractice cases, patients and the public can have a better understanding of potential risks, the importance of patient safety initiatives, and the efforts taken to address errors. Openness about medical malpractice helps foster trust and accountability in the healthcare system.
- Learning from Mistakes: Medical malpractice cases provide valuable opportunities for learning and preventing future errors. Analyzing the causes of malpractice incidents and sharing lessons learned can help healthcare professionals and organizations improve their practices, enhance patient safety, and prevent similar errors from occurring in the future.
- Policy and Legal Reforms: Attention to medical malpractice cases can drive policy and legal reforms aimed at protecting patients, improving healthcare practices, and reducing errors. By understanding the extent and nature of medical malpractice, policymakers can develop regulations and guidelines that promote patient safety and hold healthcare providers accountable.
Medical Malpractice Advocacy & Support Resources
Several organizations focus on medical malpractice advocacy and support for patients and their families. Here are some notable ones:
Patients for Patient Safety This organization is a patient-led initiative supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) that advocates for patient safety, including efforts to reduce medical errors and improve healthcare practices.
Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF): PAF is a national non-profit organization that provides education, advocacy, and direct patient services. They assist patients with accessing healthcare, resolving insurance issues, and understanding their rights in medical malpractice cases.
Citizens for Patient Safety This organization is dedicated to patient safety and preventing medical errors. They offer support, education, and resources for patients and families impacted by medical malpractice.
The Empowered Patient Coalition This organization aims to empower patients and their families through education and advocacy. They provide resources on medical malpractice and support patients in navigating the healthcare system.
Patient Safety Movement Foundation A non-profit organization dedicated to reducing preventable patient deaths in hospitals worldwide. They work to address patient safety challenges and promote transparency, collaboration, and the adoption of best practices.
How Menzer Law Can Help
Attorney Matt Menzer is a highly-skilled, respected, and compassionate lawyer who has been a leader in protecting those harmed by medical malpractice or serious personal injury for over 30 years. You can count on Matt to protect your rights and help you achieve compensation. Contact Menzer Law at 206.656.2631 or fill out this online form, and our team will review your claim at no cost.
Disclaimer: This content is written for educational purposes and is intended to provide general information and understanding of the law. The information should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state.