Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers: Data from Past Claims

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In an effort to reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits and develop more effective safety protocols and prevention strategies, malpractice insurers and other medical groups are closely examining thousands of past claims in order to gain a better understanding of why doctors are sued and identify the issues that compromise patient safety.

Although the number of malpractice claims has decreased in recent years as a result of changes to medical malpractice laws, payouts continue to increase by approximately four percent a year, according to Dr. David Troxel, pathologist and medical director of the Doctor’s Company, a large physician-owned malpractice insurer. The company is providing valuable data collected from over 40 studies of over 10,000 closed claims. These statistics will allow doctors and hospitals the opportunity to conduct their own analysis and consult with other specialist groups to discuss ways to avoid some of the more common pitfalls.

According to a 2013 study in the Health Affairs journal, the average doctor spends approximately 11 percent of a 40-year career with an unresolved medical malpractice claim. Data from the Doctors Company found that, regardless of the outcome, the amount of time spent on the process of resolving claims is extremely stressful and takes doctors’ attention away from making crucial improvements to safety and quality of care for patients.

While significant efforts have been made over the past decade to improve patient safety, the number of medical negligence lawsuits due to medical errors continues to climb. In fact, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins, medical error is the reason for approximately 250,000 fatalities each year. Researchers have found that the majority of these deaths are a result of issues like poorly coordinated care, incorrect diagnosis, or the use of poor technique during a procedure.

Learning from Past Mistakes

Studies of past claims have brought about changes in patient care in specialties like emergency care, obstetrics, and orthopedics. For example, the operations director of the emergency room at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego discussed the incidences of patients coming to the emergency room with puncture wounds from stingray barbs. Lev noticed that doctors were not carefully checking wounds for infections or contaminated foreign bodies. A new protocol was developed that requires a physician to examine every major wound for either a foreign body or a tendon injury before the wound is closed.

In obstetrics, a review of past claims revealed that too often doctors did not adequately determine the likelihood of whether a patient would be able to successfully deliver vaginally, or have a back-up plan should a C-section become necessary. To remedy this, the hospital’s delivery team focused on high-risk mothers and those with larger babies. The team came up with a rehearsal drill that would re-enact the delivery of a baby when shoulder dystocia occurs, so that they are well-prepared for real life scenarios and to reduce the risk of a birth injury in the future.

In orthopedics, improvements have been made as well. An orthopedic surgeon and president of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles has been working with a team of healthcare professionals to study the use of a mobile app that will help remind patients about procedures and follow-up instructions by automatically sending messages to a patient’s smart phone prior to surgery.

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Those Injured by Medical Negligence

Although doctors and hospitals continue to make progress in improving patient safety, when a medical mistake is made, it can have devastating consequences for you or a loved one. If you have been injured due to the medical negligence of a healthcare professional, contact Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will aggressively pursue the financial compensation you deserve and make sure that the responsible party is held liable for their actions. For a free case review, call 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.