Injuries and fatalities resulting from medical negligence are both preventable and unacceptable. The consequences of medical malpractice can be devastating, especially considering that malpractice is characterized by failure to administer a level of care that physicians are fully capable of employing.
Antibiotics, if administered correctly, save lives. However they can be hazardous and life-threatening if prescribed incorrectly. For example, inappropriately prescribed fluoroquinolones, a common class of antibiotics, were the cause of roughly 2,000 personal injury lawsuits in the U.S. last year. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections (some more serious than others), but due to various risk factors, they shouldn't be prescribed for illnesses that don't require this kind of medical intervention.
Treating a misdiagnosed ectopic pregnancy with methotrexate may cause a miscarriage or result in deformities upon birth in an otherwise normal pregnancy according to a study performed by Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). While the study group was quite small, investigators believe the results strongly indicate the need to improve tools for the accurate diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy.
Electronic medical records have been widely touted as a way to maximize efficiency in the American health care system. Indeed, the push to abandon paper records is so strong that the federal government is spending $27 billion over the next 10 years to induce hospitals and doctors' offices to purchase electronic record-keeping systems.
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's panel of health advisors voted to recommend placing additional dosing information on labels of medicines containing acetaminophen, a common fever reducer and pain reliever. Currently, labels of acetaminophen-containing drugs like Children's Tylenol provide dosing instructions for children over two years old.
Attempting to measure the cost of medical mistakes is not an easy feat, since the most sensationalized medical errors, brought to the public's attention in jury trials, only account for about 10 percent of medical malpractice cases.
A new study from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) found that medical errors happen to one of every seven hospitalized patients on Medicare. These medical mistakes cost the federal government over $4.4 billion and cause about 180,000 patient deaths each year - many deaths that could be prevented.