Some Doctors Are Willing to Hide Their Mistakes
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For people who work in an office, making a mistake at work could result in the company losing money or possibly the employee getting chewed out by a boss, but it generally doesn’t end in the loss of life.
However, when a doctor makes an error on the job, people can suffer serious injuries or death. Unfortunately, surveys show that some doctors are willing to cover up their mistakes in an effort to preserve their reputations and avoid legal consequences.
Survey Says 7 Percent of Doctors Hide Mistakes
According to a 2016 survey of doctors, seven percent say “it’s acceptable to hide a clinical mistake that harms a patient.” Among the same set of respondents, 14 percent say “it depends” when it comes to whether they would disclose an error.
Fortunately, 78 percent of doctors surveyed say it’s never acceptable to cover up a mistake. On the other hand, this number is much lower than it was when doctors were asked the same question in 2014 and 2010. In the 2014 survey, 91 percent of doctors said it’s never okay to hide a medical mistake. In 2010, the number was 95 percent.
According to WebMD, the medical profession leaves no ambiguity as to whether doctors have an ethical responsibility to inform patients of medical mistakes. “The Code of Medical Ethics of the American Medical Association doesn’t leave any wiggle room on the subject, however. It calls on doctors to ‘disclose medical errors if they have occurred in the patient’s care, in keeping with ethics guidance.’”
When doctors deliberately conceal a mistake, they can put patients at risk of developing serious health complications. For some people, these complications can lead to long-term pain, disability and even the inability to work. For others, the medical mistake leads to additional problems, which can cause serious pain, injury or death.
4 Common Types of Medical Mistakes
Medical malpractice can happen in a variety of ways. However, some types of medical mistakes happen more frequently than others.
Misdiagnosis – When a doctor fails to reach the right diagnosis, it puts the patient at risk of developing a more serious condition. Certain kind of illnesses can be treated with minimal discomfort if caught early enough. By misdiagnosing someone, doctors can subject patients to more expensive and invasive treatments down the road.
Some medical conditions can mimic other conditions, which is why it’s so important for doctors to spend time thoroughly examining their patients. When doctors truly listen to their patients, they can often avoid a misdiagnosis that puts a patient in danger of not getting the treatment they need.
Delayed Diagnosis – Additionally, doctors can cause harm to patients when they fail to reach the correct diagnosis right away. This delay can give the disease or condition time to progress, which can expose the patient to more pain and more challenging treatments.
Refusing to Treat – Doctors can also put a patient’s safety in jeopardy by withholding a certain type of treatment or therapy. This can happen when a patient’s insurance won’t cover a specific type of treatment, or when the doctor won’t receive full reimbursement from the insurer if he or she uses a treatment type not covered for the patient’s condition.
Surgical Mistakes – Most people have heard of cases in which a doctor left a sponge or instrument inside a patient’s body during surgery. This can cause a patient to develop serious pain and lead to other complications. The patient may also have to undergo another surgery to remove the item left behind.
Many hospitals try to avoid surgical mistakes by counting and recounting all of the instruments and sponges they use during a procedure. However, doctors and operating room teams are only human. If they miscount or fail to notice an instrument, they can accidentally leave these items inside the patient’s body. Some hospitals also use new technology that uses a computer and scanner to keep track of unique barcodes on every instrument and sponge used during a surgical procedure.
Birth Injuries – Medical mistakes can happen in both emergency and non-emergency situations. During birth, doctors sometimes have to make important decisions over the course of a few seconds. If they delay the proper treatment, a baby can be left with lifelong disabilities like cerebral palsy. In these cases, both the mother and the baby may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Each year, over 250,000 people die due to a medical error. Anyone who has been injured due to a doctor’s mistake or a medical error should speak to a medical malpractice lawyer about their case. These cases often have strict time limits for filing a claim, so it’s important to talk to a lawyer as quickly as possible.
Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved.