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Understanding Medical Malpractice

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Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a doctor during the treatment of a patient that departs from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes injury to the patient.  Medical malpractice, or medical negligence, could be a result of an error that occurred during the diagnosis, treatment, and/or follow up care.

How Often do Preventable Medical Errors Occur?

Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins University patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are due to medical error.

This figure, published May 3, 2021 in The BMJ, surpasses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s third leading cause of death — respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people per year.

Some estimates indicate that as many as 440,000 medical errors that result in death occur each year in the United States alone.  These numbers vary because there is no central reporting system that tracks all medical errors, making it difficult to ascertain an exact figure.  The frequency of medical errors can be difficult to calculate not only because of reporting restrictions, but also because a person might experience multiple medical errors before his or her death, yet only one error is ever reported.  Moreover, it is widely thought that the number of medical errors that occur in the U.S. each year is considerably higher than any current estimate simply because so many errors go undetected and, therefore, unreported.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Surgical errors – examples include tools or sponges left in the body after surgery, operating on the wrong side of the body, or in some cases, on the wrong patient.  

Failure to treat – examples include when a doctor correctly diagnoses a patient, but makes no effort to treat the condition.  This can lead to further injury depending on the diagnosis.

Medication errors – examples include doctors prescribing incorrect dosing or medication for a particular condition or disease.  

Misdiagnosis – examples include failure to correctly diagnose for conditions such as heart attacks or cancer.  These are threating conditions and can be devastating both physically and emotionally if not correctly diagnosed and treated.

I think I have a medical malpractice claim – what do I do?

The most important piece of information to have in order to prove medical malpractice or negligence is documentation.  Documentation can include any notes that you take, medical records from your doctors, test results, medication dosages, and the names of all doctors and professionals with whom you treated.

 Filing a medical malpractice or medical negligence claim must be done within a specific amount of time in order to be considered valid. Most medical negligence claims have a two-year statute of limitations in Texas.  But state is different and has its own statutes of limitation.

Hire an attorney who represents patients who have been injured by medical malpractice.

For more information on medical malpractice or negligence laws, visit

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