Hospital Mistakes in Maryland
Hospitals in Maryland, like in the United States in general, are pretty good; in the United States, we have a high standard for medical care that protects the average consumer. That does not, however, prevent hospitals from making mistakes. While hospital mistakes are understandable results of an imperfect system and human error, the implications of these accidents are often much more damaging than in other industries: they result in losses in the form of lost wages, pain and suffering, additional hospital bills and even death or dismemberment, plus all the collateral damage that comes along with it.
With the gravity of that harm in mind, when a hospital mistake injures a patient in Maryland, what are the legal consequences?
According to the Journal of Patient Safety, hospital mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the US, with up to 440,000 people dying every year from preventable hospital errors. “Hospital mistake” is a broad term, and includes errors made by doctors, nurses, surgeons, administrative staff and even clerks.
Typically, when there is a mistake at a hospital, it would fall under malpractice, however, not always. Medical malpractice is found when there is a duty of care owed to the injured party (plaintiff) by the offending party (defendant), this duty of care was breached, and the breach of this duty of care results in the injury to the plaintiff. This would likely be the sort of case pressed if a doctor, nurse or other member of the medical staff within the hospital made a mistake, such as using the wrong anesthetic or not checking blood pressure during surgery. While many would instinctively assume that these medical errors are more common in exotic surgeries, doctors and nurses becoming careless happens most in routine procedures.
Other mistakes that can be made would be the ordinary mistakes that any business could have, such as creating a hazardous condition. This can be exactly the same as a grocery store, such as mopping a floor without leaving a caution sign that someone then slips on, or more medical-oriented, such as a custodian improperly disposing of hazardous waste.
So what are some things that you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from a mistake at a hospital?
“Often there is little choice: in small towns with one hospital or within an insurance plan, there just may not be many options,” said Miguel Palmeiro of the Law Offices of Miguel Palmeiro. “For those who are fortunate enough to be able to select, keep in mind that not all hospitals are created equal: checking the ratings of a hospital at a place like Hospitalsafetyscore.org or other rating site can help inform you of how often avoidable hospital mistakes occur. There are also ratings available for individual doctors.”
“If you have been harmed by a hospital mistake, most firms, including our own, offer a free consultation with an attorney. Even if you do not retain them, a brief consultation can help you figure out whether or not you have a case, and clarify some of the basics of a complicated legal system. Remember, these can be complicated cases requiring expert witnesses, you will want to find someone with experience specifically with medical malpractice.”