Medical Errors Happen Every Day

When it was published in 2016, a research study on the prevalence of medical errors in the American healthcare system published by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine rocked the foundation of the nation’s understanding of what modern medical care really looks like. By analyzing government data, the researchers were able to determine that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. It is important to understand that this number does not account for the millions upon millions of non-fatal medical errors that are committed by health care providers on an annual basis. Many of these non-fatal errors cause great harm and result in significant financial consequences for those who are affected.

Why Medical Errors Can Be Difficult to Confirm

As an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Oregon – including those who practice at Andersen Morse & Linthorst – can confirm, it is rarely easy to confirm that a patient’s harm has resulted from a medical error. Determining the cause of a patient’s harm in ways that are provable and legally actionable often requires an attorney to initiate a thorough investigation to uncover the truth.

There are two primary reasons why it is so difficult to determine whether a patient’s harm has occurred as a result of a medical error. The first is that, like many people, healthcare providers are not always aware that they have made a mistake until they are alerted to the consequences of that mistake. For example, if a pharmacist fills a prescription with the wrong dosage and is unaware that they have made this error, they may never be aware that they have made a mistake unless a patient exhibits a reaction to the medication resulting from the dosage error.

The second primary reason why it can be so difficult for patients to know whether their suffering has resulted from a medical error is that most physicians, nurses, technicians, and healthcare facilities are hesitant to admit to missteps out of the fear of being sued. Not wanting to be sued is an understandable motivation for behavior. However, prioritizing one’s own need to limit liability over a patients need to understand the truth is unquestionably unethical. Thankfully, experienced medical malpractice attorneys understand how to uncover the truth even when those responsible for harm are reluctant to admit what they have done to cause the patient harm in question.