Medical negligence – Are you getting accurate diagnosis?

Atul and Nalini (names changed) were over the moon on arrival of their new-born son. The delivery happened at a leading hospital in Coimbatore. But shortly, their joy turned into grief. Their new born son lost his eyesight due to sheer negligence in administering IV (Intravenous) by the duty nurse. The baby developed bacterial infections which spread to the eyes and thereby losing sight. Had there been timely intervention by doctors, this situation would not have arised.

Medical Negligence:

Medical Negligence is defined as professional negligence by act or omission by a health care provider in which the treatment is below the prescribed standard causing injury or death of the patient. Majorly, Medical Negligence includes

  • Misdiagnosis,
  • Wrong medication dosage,
  • Inappropriate Medication prescription
  • Error in health management,
  • Leaving things inside the patient’s body after surgery
  • Operating on the wrong part of the body
  • Laxity in treatment or aftercare.
  • Infection due to medical tools like used Injections and Expired Medicine Dosages.

The mentioned medical errors might happen because nothing was done, something was neglected or there might be laxity in the medical treatment and procedures.

Lot of us presume that medical negligence cases happen only in the developing south Asian countries. But the truth is every part of the world is dealing with this medical malpractice. Let’s look into a recent case of medical malpractice held Tufts Medical Center, Boston, one of the top hospitals in the city which is focussed on providing excellent patient care. When Caroline Carcerano arrived there to get relieve from a back injury in November, 2013, she also underwent a tragic medical error.  The neurosurgeon actually requested for some special dye to test the location of tubing that had been threaded into her spine. But due to the absence of the prescribed dye, the pharmacy provided a different one. The surgeon injected it twice after checking the label himself and Caroline died the following day.

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ImageSource:http://c.o0bg.com/rf/image_460w/Boston/20112020/2014/08/30/BostonGlobe.com/Metro/Images/tufts-caroline.jpg

 

But can all premature death be termed as medical negligence?

The answer is No. Not at all premature deaths can be termed as medical negligence. Only when there is considerable evidence of disregard in treatment or lapse in medical judgement, you can hold the hospital accountable.

Let us take this tragic example of Australian cricketer of Phil Hughes died under harrowing circumstances while playing cricket on field. Inspite of best efforts and immediate medical care, Hughes could not be saved. This was definitely not medical negligence.

Apart from this, there are instances when the patient is dealing with life and death situations, in that cases, prior to surgery, patients are warned of the risks involved and consent is taken on the same. Also if the patient fails to follow the post-surgery instructions and land up to a worse condition, then also the doctor is not liable for the situation.

Few Facts on Medical Negligence –

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.—right behind heart disease and cancer.

As per a report by McKeen and Associates, PC in 2013; “Medical malpractice, which included Medical Fatalities, Infection Deaths, Fatalities caused by unnecessary surgeries and hospital errors, accounted for more unnatural deaths each year than all of the other causes combined”.

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Image Source: McKeen & Associates, P.C.

Did you know that 1 in 10 patient’s safety is compromised while receiving hospital care? Over 1.4 million people worldwide suffer from hospital acquired infections. Studies show that at least 50% of medical equipment in developing countries is unusable or only partly usable due to lack of knowledge on how to use. As a result, substandard diagnosis or treatment is meted out to patients and may result in serious injury or death.

Every year, unsafe injections cause 1.3 million deaths, primarily due to transmission of blood-borne pathogens such as hepatitis B, C virus and HIV. Problems associated with surgical safety in developed countries account for half adverse events that result in death or disability. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.—right behind heart disease and cancer.”

Legal Aspect of Medical Negligence:

In legal terms, negligence is the breach of legal duty where the situation mandates carefulness. Medical negligence is the breach of duty committed by the people, who are providing medical services.  There are four elements of medical negligence:

Duty: The Doctor owes its patient the Duty of Care , one the doctor/patient relation is established and must treat the patient same as other doctor would have done under similar situation with the medical procedures acceptable in medical community.

Breach of Duty: The doctor who had the duty of care failed in executing it by not exercising the degree of care or medical skill that another healthcare professional in the same specialty would have used in an equal situation.

Damage: The patient had suffered from physical or mental injury under the care of the healthcare practitioner.

Cause: There must be proof of breach of duty by the doctor for the patient’s injury.

 

Enactment of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 has brought into light of numerous cases related medical negligence cases.  Due the awareness in society on the protection of rights of the consumer, many patients are now filing cases against their healthcare practitioner who showed medical negligence in their duty.

But the question arises that what else can be done apart this. Though Medical malpractice law provides a way for patients to recover compensation from any harms resulting from sub-standard treatment, but the negligence already had caused the physical or emotional injury on the patient when going legal.

Get a second opinion – It is always beneficial to take a second opinion when diagnosed with a serious condition. So, don’t be afraid to find a new doctor if you feel that you are not receiving proper medical care. Your health is of paramount importance. Though there are protection and legal laws against medical negligence, but it is always advisable not to take risk with your health and it is too important to provide it to the one who is not giving you adequate time, attention and medication.

In an event of mis-diagnosis or lack of trust on the existing diagnosis, GrandOpinion helps patient and their family to cross verify the whole treatment plan at their convenience in order to avoid such untoward situations. GrandOpinion facilitates medical opinion for patients who need a second diagnosis and choose appropriate medical treatment.

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