“If you were around in the ’70s, you may recall a study done
on medical malpractice insurance,” says
Chris Mellino. “It revealed that one out of every 20 patients suffered injuries
and one in 10 died. It was hoped at that time that this information would
influence doctors to change their ways, and that the numbers would go
down by the next study. “If you’re thinking the numbers are
likely even higher now, you’d be right. Just about 100,000 people
across the U.S. die every year as a result of
medical malpractice.

The most common forms include
birth injury,
surgical mistakes, infection, septicemia, bleeding, failure to diagnose,
misdiagnosis, and
medication errors.

“That’s pretty scary stuff when you stop to think about it,
because it covers a whole gamut of things that could go wrong when you
are under the care of a doctor,” Mellino said.

Birth injuries are not just injuries to the baby; they also include the mother and may
happen if the doctor does not provide adequate care prior to, during or
after the birth. It may be that no blood tests were given to detect abnormalities,
that fetal distress was not recognized in time, that a necessary C-section
was delayed or that in a rush to deliver the baby, bones were broken.

“Any one of those errors or a combination of them could end in the
baby being diagnosed with
cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, a clavical fracture and facial paralysis. It’s
not much wonder that mothers worry themselves sick over what may happen
during birth,” Mellino said. “For the most part, doctors do
a fine job of delivering babies. It’s just that sometimes, bad things
happen, and when they do, something needs to be done about it.”

Operating room injuries are the subject of horror movies and indeed, many
people who have been injured as a result of a surgical error certainly
feel like they’ve been in a horror movie. After all, they trusted
their doctor and thought they would get better. Instead, they may end
up in worse condition than when they went into surgery or die on the table.

There are many things that can go wrong in the OR, such as the
anesthetist giving the wrong dose of anesthesia at the wrong time, puncturing or cutting an internal organ, operating on the wrong body
part or patient, leaving instruments or sponges in the patient on closing
or failing to treat infections that may arise after an operation. This
isn’t to say this happens all the time, but the numbers do indicate
things like this happen with a greater frequency than we might like.