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What is Hospital Negligence? - medtigo

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What is Hospital Negligence?

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Medical errors are an issue that has been plaguing the US healthcare industry for ffordecades. According to a study conducted by John Hopkins in 2016, over 250,000 individuals die annually due to medical errors. And, sadly these numbers are most probably underestimates, considering that the system of classifying such errors on death certificates is almost non-existent. Even so, just officially recorded medical errors account for more deaths than diabetes, pneumonia, and Alzheimer’s combined.   

What is Medical Negligence?  

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Medical errors occur when the accepted standard of care is not met by either the hospital, its employees, or the primary care provider. If such negligence results in injury or damages to the patient, it can qualify as a medical malpractice case.   

While the defined standard or care can differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, a general standard of care can be defined as the level of care which can be expected from a competent and skilled healthcare professional from a similar background. The patient is owed this standard of cabyrom all healthcare professionals, and if it isn’t met, he/she has the option to sue.   

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Some standard of care guidelines have been established by the U.S Department of the Interior for the reference of medical professionals. These include: 

  • Conforming with the rules provided in the Americans with Disabilities Act 
  • Maintaining consistency and uniformity when performing medical evaluations on all patients 
  • Obtaining the necessary qualifications to become a licensed medical professional 
  • Promising not to aggravate, accelerate, and/or worsen any patient’s existing or preexisting medical conditions  

The difference between Hospital Negligence and Physician Negligence 

Hospital Negligence can be defined as an act conducted by a hospital employee which harms a patient through a negligent error or delayed care. Interestingly, in most cases of physician negligence or malpractice, the hospital is not liable to any damages because most physicians are individual contractors, not hospital employees. A skilled attorney can help you determine whether a doctor is a hospital employee or not.   

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Other than physicians, all other healthcare professionals working in a hospital are generally employees. The hospital is liable for any sort of injury caused by the negligence of these professionals. Additionally, the hospital has a duty to prioritize patient safety and ensure that all standard protocols are followed during treatment.   

Types of Hospital Negligence  

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Employee Negligence  

The hospital is liable for any damages caused to the patient due to the negligence or inadequacy of its employees. Some examples of such negligence include: 

  • Discharging patients prematurely 
  • Failure to conduct proper tests 
  • Poor monitoring or aftercare 
  • Disregarding patient history 
  • Major surgical errors 
  • Unnecessary treatments or surgery 
  • Misdiagnosis 
  • Administration of improper medication 

Inadequate Staffing   

It’s a hospital’s responsibility to employ enough medical professionals to cater to the patient’s needs. In case the hospital is understaffed, the patient may not receive adequate monitoring, and necessary treatment can be delayed. Additionally, if the employees of an understaffed hospital are overworked — resulting in an inadequate standard of care, the hospital may prove liable.  

Negligent Hiring  

The most important duty of the hospital is to make reasonable inquiries before hiring staff. For this very reason, an elaborate hospital credentialing process exists to verify that a physician meets the standards for delivering medical care. If the hospital purposely employs a medical professional or member of the staff who is incompetent, they are liable for the actions of that employee.  

Clerical Errors 

Mistakes made while keeping records and charts are unfortunately more common than expected. If medical records are filed incorrectly, it could lead to fatal errors such as delayed treatment or administration of the wrong medication. Such errors are also common in the hospital pharmacy, where technicians often end up compounding critical medication instead of the educated and skilled pharmacists — sometimes resulting in fatal and avoidable errors.   

How to Approach this Problem?  

Unfortunately, the prevalence of preventable medical errors is very significant, causing distress or harm to an estimated 15 million patients annually. So, it’s imperative for patients to be vigilant and seek second opinions whenever necessary. Patients should not hesitate to demand a certain standard of care and be informed about standard medical practices.   

But even the most vigilant patients can become the victims of medical negligence or malpractice, and if that happens, there is a system in place to seek compensation. Most medical malpractice cases are difficult, especially if the negligence hasn’t resulted in any damage to the patient. So, patients must consult a reliable and skilled attorney who can help them navigate the situation. 

 

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