Medical Malpractice in America

March 9th, 2011 by Trey

Medical malpractice, defined as negligence or omission by medical professionals resulting in patient injury, is a considerable problem in America. Some estimates state that negligence on the part of medical professionals may contribute to up to 98,000 deaths every year. In 1974, a study suggested that 0.8 percent of patients in hospitals were injured due to negligence. Another study two years later lowered this proportion to 0.5 percent. From these studies, estimates put the number of injured American patients in 1988 at over 150,000. In New York, up to 1 percent of patients were injured in a 1984 study, a quarter of whom were already terminally ill. However, state sanctions are only applied to about 0.5 percent of total doctors for malpractice.

In another study, 53 family practitioners were interviewed, and 47 percent revealed that they knew of a case where a patient died due to an error on the part of doctors. Malpractice suits were filed in only four cases, and none of the cases resulted in an inquiry by peer review. Worse yet, another interview revealed that six to ten percent of psychiatrists had sexual relations with at least one patient.

Negligence can have many causes. Doctors reported having gone, on average, over 35 hours without sleep on the job, having around 55 hours each week of being on call, and, in 25 percent of cases, doctors spent over 80 hours a week on call. During the residency period, doctors stated that they had gone without sleep multiple times each week, and ten percent said that their sleep deprivation occurred on a daily basis.

A small proportion of doctors can be responsible for a large proportion of negligence. About 5.1 percent of doctors are involved in over half of all malpractice payouts. But, of 35,000 doctors involved in two or more malpractice suits in the last two decades, only 7.6 percent have faced disciplinary action. Medical costs have doubled in that time, and malpractice insurance costs have risen by half, accounting for three percent of doctors’ revenues.

Medical malpractice can largely be avoided with the proper training. If you are considering a career in the medical field, getting your certified medical assistant training through top-quality medical assisting colleges or medical assistant programs will set you up with the skills you need to succeed. Look online today to start researching medical assisting colleges near you.

Medical Malpractice in America

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