Medical professionals are considered the real-life heroes of the world. The medical industry is full of heroes that diagnose, treat and cure various medical issues. However, they are still humans like everyone else. Doctors, nurses, surgeons and more are like everyone else but with a large amount of medical knowledge and skills. To be human is to make mistakes.
When medical professionals make mistakes, it’s more serious than a wrong number on an account or a lost file. Medical negligence can lead to severe complications or death. There are many cases where medical errors have resulted in medical malpractice lawsuits.
Some of these cases are rather odd and famous in the medical industry, but they are still mistakes and unintentional. The article will highlight the top 5 famous medical malpractice lawsuits and how medical malpractice insurance may cover these cases.
What is Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Medical malpractice insurance is a liability insurance for medical professionals and healthcare organisations. This insurance policy protects medical professionals from lawsuits against them regarding their professional negligence, error or decisions.
The insurance will cover the costs of medical malpractice lawyer expenses, compensation and settlement payment. However, medical malpractice insurance will not cover any medical criminal act or if the accused intentionally did the negligence.
The insurance may cover most medical malpractice lawsuits, but only after the case is settled (to get an accurate verdict).
Famous Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Wrong Leg Amputation
Surgeons are doctors who are experts in operating on the body. It is one of the hardest jobs in the medical industry. Most surgeons perform 8-10 minor or 3-5 major surgeries daily. When conducting a high number of surgeries, errors are possible.
One of the saddening famous medical malpractice lawsuits includes the amputation of the wrong leg. The patient sued the hospital when he woke up and realised the surgeon amputated the wrong leg. The surgeon made this error due to miscommunication and how the other leg was apparently infected too.
His colleagues defended and supported the surgeon, and another doctor said, “It is my opinion that 50 – no, probably 90 % – of the surgeons in this state would have made the same mistake”. The patient received a USD 1.2 million settlement from the hospital. Unfortunately, such incidents are not as rare as we imagine and can happen to any medical professional.
Surgery Instrument Left in the Body
Surgeons use many tools when performing the operations, from sponges to scissors. They are quickly switching instruments and moving on to the next steps. At times the busy schedule and rush are what caused the medical negligence.
Unfortunately, there are many medical malpractice lawsuits where surgical instruments are left in the body accidently. For instance, the well-known case where the surgeon left a pair of scissors in a Brazilian politician. The tumour removal surgery seemed to go great; at least, that’s what they thought. However, the politician returned in 6 days, and the scan revealed the scissors inside his body.
Typically such incidents result in large lawsuits and huge settlement costs against the doctors and the hospital for medical malpractice. However, the politician did not want to press charges at the moment.
Objects can cause infections and lead to death in many cases and result in large lawsuits and reputation damage to hospitals. Most medical professionals try to avoid such mistakes, no matter how busy they are – sadly, errors are unpredictable.
Awake During Surgery – Anaesthesia Error
Anaesthesia is a big part of surgeries, and there is a certified nurse (anaesthesiologist) that is responsible for this part. It is a gas that causes loss of sensation and puts the patient and their body in a state of sleep. The gas is crucial to ensure the patient feels nothing during the surgery.
Unfortunately, there have been medical malpractice lawsuits where the patients were mentally awake. For example, a man sued his hospital as the nurse did not adequately provide the gas. The patient was getting a hernia surgery, and the nurse forgot to give the complete form of the gas until 13 minutes into the procedure.
He could not speak or move but felt all the pain. He said it was torture and believed he was having a heart attack. The patient has sued the nurse and the hospital for mental damage. It is a horrible incident, but it was purely a mistake by the anesthesiologist (which could happen in surgeries).
Misdiagnoses are the number one cause of medical malpractice lawsuits. Medical misdiagnosis is when a doctor mistakes a particular illness for another and provides incorrect treatment. It could be a serious illness diagnosed for something minor or vice versa. Either way, it is serious and can negatively affect the patient and lead to significant lawsuits.
A famous misdiagnosis lawsuit was given to a celebrity called Kelly Clarkson. Kelly Clarksonwas told she has cancer a few hours before an award show, ruining the happiness of winning “best female pop star”. The next day she was informed it was an error, she did not have cancer, and it was a result mix-up in the hospital.
It is unclear if she took legal action against the hospital or professional. But any patient, in this case, could take action towards the negligence. Such negligence is regrettably common due to the amount of data stored and processed daily in a hospital.
Medical technology has increased in the years to make treatment easier and better. An example of modern medical technology is IVF treatment. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) helps people with fertility problems. During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg is then returned to the woman’s womb to grow and develop.
The procedure has resulted in millions of happy couples and single parents. However, sadly that’s not always the case. One of the famous medical malpractice lawsuits includes a case regarding IVF negligence. The issue occurred when a Hispanic couple used the help of IVF to get pregnant. However, after their child was born, she looked a bit different to them.
After a while, they did a DNA test as it was getting clear she was not their race. The test showed she had no DNA from the father, and the biological father was of a different race. It was then understood the fertility clinic had accidently injected the wrong sperm into her eggs. They filed a lawsuit against the clinic for their negligence and expect a high settlement. Thankfully they still love their daughter and a glad to raise her.
Why Medical Professionals and Businesses Need Medical Malpractice Insurance?
All these medical malpractice lawsuits have been due to medical negligence and errors that can happen in the profession. All these cases will be covered by medical malpractice insurance. The insurance will cover the legal fees, compensation and settlement costs.
The insurance is vital in the medical industry, to protect professionals when they make errors and have to pay millions to deal with the mistake. Medical liability insurance in no form promotes negligence or takes the outcomes lightly, as the insurance will investigate the case, before reimbursing costs.
However, sometimes medical errors do happen to even the best doctors and hospitals. The insurance helps them provide the high settlement costs and avoid financial loss to continue saving lives in the future (in the better and best way).
Having medical malpractice insurance provides the peace of mind to pay attention to their work and avoid them worrying about unpredictable lawsuits. It is a stressful profession, and all they should be focusing on is saving lives.