When people think about medical malpractice, they almost always think about mistakes made by doctors. People are quick to worry about surgical mistakes, such as performing a surgery on the wrong side of the body or the wrong patient. Other people may worry about medication errors, particularly if they take a number of prescriptions.
However, there is an entirely other subset of medical malpractice that people often overlook, which is neglect. Medical neglect does not just happen in nursing homes. It is also an issue and hospitals and even in office practices where doctors don’t have adequate time to interact with individual patients.
The end result can be overlooking important symptoms, offering inadequate treatment, or failing to intervene in a timely manner. It is the third leading cause of adult death in the United States.
For-profit medicine incentivizes corner-cutting
Decades ago, most physicians had their own independent practice, while some partnered with nearby hospitals. These days, independent practice physicians seem to be an endangered species. Most doctors work for a corporate medical practice that has strict requirements as far as their work performance. Many times, the focus of these requirements is on patient turnover rather than the success rate of treatments.
This often means that doctors must see as many patients as possible on any given day, even if it may compromise the standard of care individual patients receive. This can lead to doctors interrupting patients as they describe symptoms, overlooking issues that they might catch in a longer appointment or even failing to diagnose a disease before it becomes incurable. Medical neglect can happen in hospitals, too.
Patients may need assistance moving around the room, getting dressed, or even feeding themselves. If there isn’t adequate staff to go around, patients may not get the care they need. While a small amount of negligence isn’t inherently catastrophic for patients, it can result in complications or even death in some cases.
Patients in medical facilities deserve timely responses and adequate attention from the providers receiving pay for their care. The desire to keep staff as low as possible and patient turnover as high as possible can compromise the quality of care that patients receive.
Medical negligence often results in poor outcomes for patients
Medicine is a complex field of work that requires both intellectual knowledge and interpersonal communication skills. Doctors and nurses who don’t have time to interact with their patients sufficiently may not offer the standard of care a patient needs to recover from a condition. In other cases, it can result in completely failing to diagnose something.
Patients who don’t receive adequate care in medical facilities have the right to hold the facility or the medical provider responsible for their poor outcomes. For example, if hospital negligence in monitoring a loved one resulted in them not receiving timely care for cardiac arrest, they may be liable for your financial losses as a result of that death.
In other cases, if medical negligence results in a failure to diagnose a serious condition, patients may have a claim against the doctor or hospital for the increased costs they incur as a result of that delayed diagnosis. If you believe that you or someone you love has been the victim of medical neglect, it may be time to explore whether you have grounds to claim medical malpractice.