Healthcare businesses work in one of the most sensitive and risky fields, human error or negligence can cause life-threatening problems, and can even lead to death. The stakes are high when dealing with a patient’s health, when things go wrong, it can leave healthcare businesses vulnerable to lawsuits.
There are around 85,000 lawsuits filed for medical malpractice every year, and an estimated 1 million injuries related to medical care, in the United States alone! With the worldwide pandemic, there are now even more cases than ever.
Here are some of the top reasons why healthcare businesses get sued in 2021.
Delayed Diagnosis And Misdiagnosis
The most common cause of lawsuits filed against healthcare professionals is that of misdiagnosis/delayed diagnosis. With about one-third of all cases pertaining to these reasons. The problems that can come from an incorrect diagnosis can be severe, with no fault on the patient, with many cases leading to incorrect or unnecessary surgery, the prescription if incorrect drugs or a serious issue can go untreated. Up to 12 million patients are affected by misdiagnosis each year, with up to 80,000 deaths related to negligence in diagnosis.
One of the top things a healthcare business can do to avoid lawsuits is to prevent misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis by putting in extra effort and care in the diagnosis process with patients. Healthcare professionals should seek a second opinion on complicated diagnoses, they can also work with nurses to do a preliminary diagnosis to determine the priority of patients. Having a well-trained and competent staff that can spot serious issues and double-check a doctor’s diagnosis can save lives and reduce the risk of ending up in court.
Mistakes With Prescription Drugs
The American Food and Drug Administration is said to receive upwards of 100,000 medication error reports annually. Wrongly prescribed medication is a big problem and is one of the top reasons why healthcare businesses get sued.
Medication errors can come from both patient/caregiver and healthcare professionals. There are nine types of medication errors from healthcare businesses that could lead to a lawsuit, including failure to prescribe a drug, prescribing the wrong drug or dosage, failure to take into account a patient’s medical conditions or drug allergies, or prescribing drugs unlawfully. This is unfortunately quite common with up to 1 in 5 American patients who have received a medical error during hospital stays or receiving health care. Doctors, pharmacists, and caregivers can all be liable for suing from errors with prescription drugs
Medical Procedure Errors
In the United States, there are around 4,000 surgical errors each year, with some resulting in death. Medical procedures and surgeries pose risks either through error, medical complications or because of the complexity of a procedure. When we go in for an operation we are putting our lives in the hands of the medical professionals, but sometimes errors will occur and could lead to a lawsuit from the patient or their families.
Some of these errors can include performing surgery on an incorrect body part, performing a procedure on the incorrect patient, complications with anaesthesia, not following proper medical procedures, or even leaving medical materials inside the body. Medical malpractice cases end 96.5% of the time in settlements, with the average malpractice settlement in The United States is around $300,000 and can have huge implications for any healthcare business.
Medical Malpractice Claims Due To COVID-19
Throughout 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the planet, hospitals and healthcare professionals came under a huge amount of pressure from dealing with the virus and the increased number of patients. Through April and June of 2020, there was a 400% increase in medical malpractice reports, with the increase being linked to COVID-19. Following proper pandemic procedures, sourcing the correct medical equipment, and giving proper support to medical staff can help reduce the chance of medical malpractice in the very trying and difficult conditions that have been experienced due to the pandemic.
What Actions Can Be Taken By Authorities?
If a healthcare business is suspect of fraudulent activity or medical malpractice, it may be subject to investigation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). If you suspect your healthcare business is under investigation, you may need some OIG investigation tips to help avoid some of the consequences of a conviction. If a healthcare business is in an investigation, it can lose funding from federal programs, receive sizable fines, and can even face criminal charges and medical licenses revoked.
Healthcare Businesses Should Keep Up With The News
Keeping up with current events in any field is important for any business. For businesses in the healthcare industry, it can be important for following medical developments, pandemic-related news, and news relating to medical lawsuits or changes in medical malpractice policy.
You can follow or use certain news platforms to follow industry-specific developments or to publish press releases relating to the field. Taking these steps can help any business interact with other professionals in the industry and keep up-to-date with industry news and developments.
Finally, Fraud can be a huge issue in the medical field, with over 300 convictions and over $6 billion in fraudulent claims. Both patients and medical practitioners can be convicted of fraudulent activity and can even result in jap time. The economic cost of fraud can be huge, with an estimated 3-10% of all medical expenditure being fraudulent.
Medical malpractice and fraud will continue to be a big issue throughout the rest of the year. With huge pressure on the healthcare system due to the ongoing pandemic, it will continue to be a difficult and stressful time for healthcare professionals and businesses. Following proper medical practices and taking pandemic precautions seriously will be required to help reduce the instances of healthcare businesses facing lawsuits, fines, loss of licenses, or criminal convictions.
It is the responsibility of every healthcare business to take rigorous measures to make sure their standards and practices are of the highest possible, and all precautions are taken to ensure the safest and most honest treatment for its patients, and the proper care and support for its medical employees.