Medical Malpractice – inevitable human error or very preventable negligence?

We all agree that there are too many medical malpractice lawsuits in courtrooms around the country. The reason for this is simple. While most doctors and medical staff are well trained and professional, every day, some medical care workers prescribe the wrong medication, misdiagnose patients, perform the wrong procedure, and even operate on the wrong part of the body. Overworked and underpaid nurses and aides make simple mistakes that harm patients. Surprisingly, the most common cases of medical malpractice involve preventable falls and preventable bed sores.

In 2008, New Jersey hospitals reported 533 incidents of error. These blunders included patient falls, bed sores, and foreign objects left inside patients after surgery. Of these 533 errors reported in New Jersey in 2008, 40% of them were patient falls. The typical falling patients were elderly women between the ages of 81 and 90. Fractures to arms and legs were the most commonly reoccurring injuries resulting from falls, while 9% of the falls resulted in death. Seventy-one percent of the falls happened in the patient’s rooms, usually while the patient was trying to get to the bathroom. Some may argue that these falls are hardly medical malpractice cases, and simply accidents. Those people are wrong. These “accidents” are preventable and someone must be held accountable. Fall prevention must be high priority for health care facilities housing high-risk fall patients, and hospital staffs should be educated about those patients. Perhaps better lit pathways to private bathrooms, or rails that patients could hold onto while walking could reduce fall rates. We send our loved ones to the hospital in hopes that the doctors and nurses will be able to treat their ailments and return them back to health. Those doctors and nurses are paid to care for and watch over our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Should it not then be a nurse’s job to know that the 82 year old woman in room 104 is at risk of falling, and therefore check on her more regularly?

In addition to preventable falls, bed sores and pressure ulcers are also among the most frequently reported errors, and a grave cause for concern. The medical evidence overwhelmingly shows that there is no reason that any nursing home or hospital patient that is being properly cared for ever develop a bed sore or pressure ulcer. They are simply a sign of negligence and inadequate care-taking, and both count as medical malpractice. Bed sores and pressure ulcers result in unnecessary and preventable suffering, infection, and other serious complications, that otherwise would not have to be dealt with. Some sick patients can not take a minute infection that a bed sore can cause, and that minute infection than becomes fatal. Preventative measures should be taken to avoid these awful afflictions. Those measures include repositioning the patient every two hours, inspecting the parts of the body most prone to bedsores, cleaning skin that becomes moistened from perspiration, excrement, or wound drainage, changing sheets frequently, and keeping patients hydrated.

Asking medical personnel to prevent over 200 sick patients from falling and sustaining serious and possibly fatal injuries is far from asking doctors to be perfect. Demanding that nurses and nurses’ aides be more attentive to bed ridden patients to prevent painful and dangerous bedsores is not outrageous. Negligence, inadequate care taking, and inattentiveness are all cases of medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has suffered due to medical malpractice in New Jersey or Philadelphia, Mininno Law Firm is here to help you get the compensation you are owed. Call (856) 833-0600 in New Jersey, or (215) 567-2380 in Philadelphia.

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