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Inspector General: Medical Malpractice Often Goes Unreported

A recent report issued by Inspector General Daniel Levinson finds that many medical malpractice incidents go unreported nationwide. Levinson's team of inspectors found that about 15,000 Medicare patients suffer wrongful deaths attributable to medical malpractice each month and that many of these deaths are the result of systemic problems that could have been resolved.

The report focused on some of the most egregious examples of medical malpractice including wrong-patient surgeries, medical instruments left inside patients after surgeries, and fires that break out during surgeries. In a sampling of these "immediate jeopardy" cases, only 28 of 88 cases were forwarded to hospital accreditors. Only one of the 19 cases which required corrective plans was reviewed by a state agency

The most alarming factor in the Medicare report is the fact that because these serious mistakes go unreported, hospitals do not have an opportunity to fix procedural or systemic issues and prevent these mistakes from reoccurring.

Patients who suffer from medical malpractice do have options however. A medical negligence lawsuit can be filed against a doctor or any other medical professional who fails to provide the expected standard of care when dealing with a patient. Generally a patient has to show that a medical provider's failure to live up to the appropriate standard of care for a given situation caused his or her injuries.

In cases such as wrong-side surgeries and surgical fires, the violation of the standard of care is relatively straightforward. There are other instances where the breach of the standard of care is less straightforward and an experienced Miami medical malpractice attorney can help patients put forth their best case and receive the damages that they are entitled to.

Source: USA Today, "Medicare report: Improve tracking of serious hospital errors," Kelly Kennedy, Nov. 1, 2011

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