People who seek medical care in Oregon and across the United States depend on medical professionals to give effective and helpful treatment, but medical errors can and do happen. According to recent studies, hospital medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., with between 200,000 and 400,000 deaths every year attributed to hospital medical errors. These errors range from medication mistakes to doctors performing the wrong surgery.
Oregon patients might be appalled to learn that many people have died because of poor communication among staff members at medical facilities. A research and analysis firm says that this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Oregon patients may be interested in the rules regarding whether an injured third party can sue a hospital for medical malpractice. For example, someone who was injured in an auto accident that resulted from another driver's incapacitation due to pain medication prescribed without warning may have a case against the prescribing hospital. The New York Court of Appeals determined that the hospital was responsible for third party damages in the case of Davis v. South Nassau Communities Hospital.
End-of-life decisions can be stressful for loved ones of those who are passing. However, Oregon health care providers may help deal with challenges in this area, especially in cases of possible brain death. Guidelines have been established to ensure that the diagnosis of brain death is as accurate as possible, but recent studies indicate that these policies are not being implemented consistently in hospitals.
In Oregon, hospital neglect could lead to death as it did for one woman in Florida in December 2015. She was forcibly removed from a hospital when she believed she was still unwell. Some think it would have been more reasonable to let her sit in the hospital until she calmed down and felt better.
Hospitals and other medical facilities in Oregon and around the country may face legal action when they fail to take all reasonable steps to ensure the well-being and safety of their patients. Medical malpractice lawsuits filed against hospitals generally involve the doctrines of either corporate negligence or vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is a secondary liability that holds supervisors responsible for the actions of those under their control. Corporate negligence has been recognized as a cause of action against health care facilities due to the impact that they can have on the health of their patients.
An Oregon hospital can be a busy place, and a patient may find that it is difficult to get attention in an understaffed situation. Even with a fall risk sign on the door, the patient may find that nurses and other caregivers are unavailable to provide prompt assistance for pain issues, nourishment needs, or trips to the restroom. However, dealing with the aftermath of a fall in this setting could be difficult, especially in the case of a joint replacement patient who suffers a serious injury to the involved joint. Determining whether such a fall is a case of medical malpractice can depend on the circumstances.
A study recently published in a medical journal examines why medical malpractice lawsuits may escalate due to cost containment decisions. The study was conducted using doctors in Florida, and a pattern may point out that doing more testing may result in a decreased likelihood of a malpractice lawsuit in Oregon and around the country.
As many Oregon patients know, a medical malpractice lawsuit is a lengthy process. It must be initially established that the health care providers involved in the case actually owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. The appropriate level of care must also be determined and if this level of care was not met, the health care provider could be found to have committed medical negligence.
As some Oregon patients know, patient care in teaching hospitals is often handled in part by physicians in training. These resident doctors have backup and may call supervising physicians. A recent study looked at when the call for advice should be made in a pediatric setting and whether guidelines might be needed to address this issue.