Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Growing Med Mal Problem

Medical malpractice is actually a much bigger problem than many people realize and even bigger than medical professionals want to admit. The latest statistics on the Internet show that roughly 225,000 people die each year as a direct result of medical malpractice. The main question really ought to be, what is anyone doing about it?

The scary thing about the statistics is that despite the rising numbers of deaths there are very few lawsuits filed. It appears that only 2% of the potential 225,000 claims for med mal actually make it as far as filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Unfortunately, the numbers of plaintiffs who are awarded compensation is even smaller. This should not stop anyone who feels they have been a victim of med mal from stepping forward and speaking to a qualified med mal attorney.

Despite what you see on television and read in the papers, medical malpractice lawsuits should not be curtailed or reduced (as many politicians seem to want). More patients need to launch lawsuits to shine some light on the problem so it has the opportunity to be addressed, not hidden from the public.

If you don't think the numbers are really all that significant, consider these figures. An estimated 12,000 die due to unnecessary surgery; medication errors are responsible for roughly 7,000 deaths; and other medical errors account for approximately 20,000 deaths. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The numbers also account for close to 80,000 people nationwide who die from something called nosocomial infections they contracted in the hospital. Pretty staggering numbers aren't they?

Med mal can happen anywhere there are medical procedures performed and may involve a physician, nurse, nurse practitioner or lab technicians. While many people think medical malpractice is something enormous going wrong, it often begins with the smaller things like a wrong diagnosis, inaccurately read x-rays, misinterpreted tests, and the list goes on. Other larger, more horrendous errors, would involve such things as removing the wrong body part from the wrong patient.

If you suspect you have been the victim of medical malpractice, make it a point to call experienced legal counsel and discuss your potential case. They have the right kind of expertise needed to immediately evaluate the situation and advise you on how to proceed. Most initial consultations are free and this provides you with the opportunity to ask questions and get an initial understanding of medical malpractice law.

If you have a valid case, your attorney will take you through the steps for filing a med mal lawsuit against the proper parties - meaning a physician and/or their staff, hospital, facility or lab. Before a lawsuit is filed there is an attempt to come to some sort of an agreement with the defendant first. When all else fails, you will be bound for court.

Robert Webb is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in Atlanta personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law. Learn more at

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