Considering Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Claims

Medical Malpractice

The Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 98,000 people die in hospitals in the United States every year from medical errors that could have been prevented. In cases where a patient dies and the healthcare provider has violated the applicable standard of care, the family members may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Providers that must provide patients a legal standard of care include physicians, nurses, clinical social workers, psychologists, therapists, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists and pharmacists, for example.

In wrongful death lawsuits, the family of the deceased sues the doctor or healthcare facility to recover damages for the loss of their loved one. The damages that can be recovered in wrongful death claims vary depending on the state where the malpractice occurred. Ordinarily, damages from these claims may include the following:

  • The loss of financial support
  • The loss of companionship and intimacy
  • Financial costs associated with necessary medical treatment or care
  • Funeral expenses
  • Compensatory damages for the pain and suffering that the deceased may have suffered before his or her death

In a positive trend for consumers, medical malpractice case recoveries increased nationwide in 2013, according to data collected by the federal government. It marked the first increase in 10 years, as recorded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

In terms of actual dollars paid to injured patients, the overall increase was 4.7 percent last year, according to an analysis by Diederich Healthcare.

It may surprise consumers to know that lawyers negotiated 96 percent of all the medical malpractice payments through out-of-court settlements, as opposed to taking cases to court and obtaining a judgment.

Misdiagnosis of a medical condition was the most common basis for a medical malpractice recovery, accounting for 33 percent of all payouts. In other medical malpractice recoveries, the negligence by a medical professional involved:

  • 23% – botched surgery
  • 18% – mistakes in general treatment
  • 10% – obstetrics errors
  • 5% – negligence in prescribing medication
  • 5% – mishandled anesthesia
  • 4% – failure to monitor a patient properly
  • 2% – equipment malfunctions

For more information please read Medical Malpractice Questions.

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