Medical mistakes occur every single day in the U.S. and they occur at shocking rates. A landmark study by researchers employed by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine determined that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in America. This conclusion – while maddening – only accounts for those medical errors that prove fatal. It doesn’t even address the millions of errors that occur each year which cause non-fatal harm.
Non-fatal medical mistakes can result in a host of different consequences. They may not cause any harm at all, or they may cause modest, serious, severe, and even catastrophic harm. In the event that non-fatal medical mistakes cause a patient injury, illness, or exacerbation of a preexisting condition, that patient may potentially sue those who were responsible for causing the harm in question. In the event that medical errors result in fatal harm, the surviving loved ones of those who have died as a result of their injuries may be in a strong position to file wrongful death lawsuits.
The Costs of Medical Malpractice Injuries
Many medical mistakes don’t result in harm, let alone harm that leads to financial losses. As an experienced Oregon medical malpractice lawyer – including those who practice at Andersen Morse & Linthorst – can confirm, only those medical mistakes that result in injury, illness, or another kind of harm are legally actionable. And even then, harm is only actionable to the extent that it results in losses to the affected patient. For example, if a delayed diagnosis of cancer leads to significant medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, these losses can be compensated for by a medical malpractice “damages” award. If a mistake doesn’t result in any losses, there is nothing to compensate an affected patient for via a lawsuit.
With that said, many medical malpractice injuries result in profound financial losses. As a result, even if a patient is unsure of whether or not their suffering was directly caused by the substandard care of a medical provider, it is important to explore their legal options and to clarify their situation. Otherwise, they could remain burdened by the costs and losses associated with their suffering when the negligent medical provider responsible for that harm should compensate them for those burdens. Some medical mistakes result in such egregious harm that multi-million dollar settlements serve as wholly reasonable compensation awards.
Determining Whether a Medical Mistake Actually Occurred
It is a relatively rare occurrence when a medical provider admits – outright and unprompted – to having made a mistake. Oftentimes, providers fail to be forthright with their patients out of liability and reputation-related concerns. Additionally, many providers are unaware that certain mistakes have occurred whatsoever. Sometimes, it only becomes evident that a mistake has been made once the consequences of that mistake manifest and are made obvious, which can take time.
If you’re unsure of whether a medical mistake caused your harm and related losses, that’s okay. Speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your concerns so that you can uncover the truth and make informed decisions about whatever that truth may be.