Those who have had surgery or are about to have an operation know how nervous an individual can get before going under the knife. These nerves are well-founded. A slip of a scalpel, inattentive medical professionals, and inaccurate acts can leave a patient maimed and with life-long pain. In some instances they are fatal. Those who are injured by a surgical error may face a painful, depressing, life-long road to recovery.
Veterans, just like all Oregonians, are susceptible to medical mistakes. A recent nationwide investigation has taken a close look at malpractice at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and the resulting settlements. The numbers and amount of settlements are surprising to many. According to government databases, malpractice claims against the VA were up nearly 30% in 2012 when compared to 2011. Since 2003, the VA has lost or settled over 4,000 cases. The payout and associated taxpayer cost on these cases totals more than $844 million. Around 20% of malpractice claims result in a payout in the private health care sector. The VA pays out around 25% of claims, and those payments have been increasing in recent years. The number of payments in 2012 was the second highest in the past decade.
Taking prescription medication is a daily occurrence for many Oregonians. Whether picking up medication from a pharmacy or getting it directly from a doctor or hospital, most people never question the accuracy of the dosage or type of medication they are being given. The unfortunate truth is that medication errors happen on a regular basis. A large part of this problem involves hospital staff negligence and administration errors.
Medical malpractice can cause serious and irreparable harm to Oregon patients. For this reason, it may come as a surprise to learn that thousands of doctors responsible for hospital staff negligence still have their licenses to practice medicine. Despite fatal errors and medical malpractice lawsuits, these physicians have gone unpunished by state medical boards.
Medical malpractice claims in Oregon are often associated with doctors, nurses and hospital facilities. However, malpractice is not limited to hospital negligence. It encompasses a wide range of wrongful actions, including those of dentists. In one such case, more than two dozen patients of a former dentist have recently succeeded in their malpractice lawsuits. In arbitration, they have been awarded $35 million.
When people go to the doctor or to the hospital, they expect to receive the best care available. Under Oregon law, people should be able to expect that doctors, nurses and all hospital staff will stand-up to a reasonable standard of care. If this standard is met then there should be no hospital staff negligence.