Doctors are fallible as they make mistakes in technique, judgment, ignorance or even, sometimes, recklessness. A 1999 report made by the Institute of Medicine stated that as many as 98,000 Americans have been dying every year because of medical mistakes.
Today, exact figures are unavailable as each state is using its own reporting guidelines, and only few cases gained as much attention as the case of Rory Staunton, the 12-year-old boy who died of septic shock this spring after being sent home from a New York hospital. But around 200,000 Americans is a reasonable estimate of those killed due to medical mistakes each year. It appears that medical mistake is the number one leading cause of death. But these mistakes could have been avoided by legal measures.
American doctors perform a staggering number of tests and procedures, far more than in other industrialized nations. Since 1996, the percentage of drugs prescribed by doctors to their patients has nearly tripled as the number of M.R.I. scans quadrupled. Many prescriptions, procedures and tests are based on legitimate needs but some are not.
In a recent anonymous survey conducted among orthopedic surgeons, many claimed that 24 % of the tests they ordered were medically unnecessary. This policy is a form of defensive medicine, not to protect the patient but to protect the doctor or hospital against potential lawsuits.
The irony lies in this fact – defensive medicine is based in the goal of avoiding mistakes. But every added procedure or test, no matter how carefully performed, has a potentiality for error. CT and M.R.I. scans can be defective and lead to false recommendations and unnecessary operations, which carry a danger of complications like infections and bleeding. The more medications patients are prescribed, the more likely they are accidentally overdosed or suffer an allergic reaction. Even routine operations like gallbladder removals require anesthesia, which can increase the incidence of heart attack and stroke. More procedures, testing and treatment are not always better.
In 1979, Stephen Bergman, under his pen name Dr. Samuel Shem, published rules for hospitals in his caustically humorous novel, The House of God. Rule No. 13 reads: – The delivery of medical care is to do as much nothing as possible. First, do no harm. This satirical novel published in 1978 portrayed the psychological harm done by medical interns during the course of medical internship in the early 1970.
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If you or a loved has suffered due to negligence you may wish to consult with experienced Philadelphia Injury Lawyers. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Please note strict deadline apply and it is in your best interest to contact a Pennsylvania attorney immediately.