Medical Error or Malpractice?
On May 28, 2021, Newsweek published a sad story about Jeannette Shields, who needlessly died in a hospital after being dropped. Jeannette was seventy years old. She was a wife, mother, and grandmother. She went to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, Cumbria, England for treatment of gallstones.
Gallstone treatment is fairly common and, often, uncomplicated. While at Cumberland Infirmary, Jeannette buzzed for help to use the restroom. No one responded so she attempted to go on her own, but fell and broke her hip. Jeannette required surgery to fix her broken hip. The surgery went well until the doctors dropped Jeannette off the operating table. She hit her head and died shortly thereafter.
Health care providers should never drop a postoperative patient from the surgical table. This is a preventable medical error, known as a “never event.” “Never events” are errors in medical care that are clearly preventable and serious in their consequences. “Never events,” like dropping a patient, surgery on the wrong body part, or mismatched blood transfusion, cause serious injury or death and result in increased burdens on our health care system.
“Never events” are an epidemic. They plague hospitals across the United States. “Never events” cause well over 100,000 deaths per year and increase annual health care costs by $17 billion to $29 billion. The patients not only suffer due to their injuries, but they end up spending more than 2.5 million extra hospital days recuperating from the “never events.” As alarming as these numbers are, they do not include general medical errors made in hospitals, doctors’ offices, surgery centers, nursing centers, or other health care facilities.
Understaffed Hospitals with Antiquated Systems
Turning back to Jeannette Shields, her series of unfortunate events highlights a common patient complaint and source of injury—unresponsive staff. Patients are often left alone in their hospital room with nothing more than a button to summon help. Certain requests are more urgent than other, like using the restroom; however, the call button does not distinguish between urgent and routine matters. Arguably, hospital staff should have been more responsive when Jeannette buzzed for help using the restroom. The call buttons are there to alert staff when patients need assistance and to avoid this very scenario—where the patient gives up waiting, gets up on their own, becomes dizzy, and falls.
Maybe the hospital was understaffed or did not view call lights as urgent issues. Maybe the call button rings to the nurses’ station rather than a communication device on the assigned nurse and staff. This issue highlights how antiquated systems hold back 21st Century health care. The call button is an analog tool in a digital age. We have the technology so why are we not using it?
Medical Negligence Claims
Finally, we need to stop referring to “never events” as “errors” or “accidents.” We should call them what they are: “medical malpractice,” “medical negligence,” or “health care negligence.” They are violations of the public trust.
Along with other unintentional injuries, medical negligence is easily the third leading cause of death in the United States; however, state and federal governments and courts erect obstacles for injury victims.
You can no longer rely on just any personal injury lawyer to help you with a medical negligent claim; you now need to hire experienced attorneys like Gage Mathers—lawyers who are familiar with overcoming the obstacles and successfully obtained compensation for medical malpractice victims and their families.
Read the article online: “Woman Dies After Being ‘Dropped’ on Floor Following Surgery.”
Read about “Never Events”: “Eliminating Serious, Preventable, And Costly Medical Errors – Never Events.”