Author Archives: Lachlan Emmett

Clinical negligence: the numbers, facts and stats

The number of unplanned neither by the doctor nor by the patient consequences of treatment, alas, is high and rising. A child with a large scar on his cheek commemorating the birth by caesarean section, a person losing erectile function after surgery to remove a hernia or the baby, asleep forever because of generous doses of phenobarbital assigned by duty medical personnel for children from newborn pathology department to sleep at night better… not to mention high-profile cases of HIV infection through blood transfusion – according to NPR article, almost 440,000 of patients only in the US suffer from clinical negligence.

‘Bad luck’, ‘fateful combination of circumstances’, ‘doctors are humans first of all’ – will some of these explanations satisfy relatives of the victim? Still, while some resign themselves with the cases, taking the event as a stroke of fate, others require legal punishments or deal with the consequences on their own.

In some cases, the arguments of the guilty doctors in their justification do not satisfy the jury: for example, a patient in the United States, which had his leg amputated due to the mistake, as the result of long litigation was paid a compensation in the amount of $1.2ml.

British doctors admit their work is accompanied by too many mistakes that endanger the life and health of patients. According to recent studies, such errors in the work of the staff of the British hospital can become a cause of death of 70 thousand patients a year. In one way or another, wrong treatment of patients results into a medical negligence action in every twentieth case. Solicitors.guru, one of the largest collections of legal services in the UK, mentioned medical negligence solicitors area to be among the most top 5 demanded ones.

This disappointing statistics appeared in the report, which was published in the latest issue of British Medical Journal. Data were obtained in the analysis of thousands of case records stored in the archives of the two London hospitals: given the relatively small amount of research, it is difficult to transfer the results to the whole country, but the trend is clear. Not always the side effects of the treatment are the ground to blame the hospital staff. However, about half the trouble cases revised could have been avoided if the doctors and nurses had the necessary skill and time. Now time simply does not allow sufficient attention to be paid to many severe patients. According to experts, in such a situation it is to only 400 thousand patients from among the residents of England and Wales.

Among recent examples of medical errors that cost the life of patients, it can be called two cases of improper prescribing and the case of three year old Najiyah Hussain, which instead was given nitrous oxide instead of oxygen. In addition, shortcomings in the work of the medical cause serious economic damage due to increased length of stay in hospital, which is estimated at one billion pounds annually.

Medical negligence risk factors and classifications explained

The classification of medical errors reflects their true causes. On the one hand, they are objective and do not depend on medical capabilities, but on the other hand, there are subjective mistakes negligence, carelessness, including the reckless actions of the doctor.

Such errors as random errors are possible in tough conditions of operation, abnormalities in blood vessels and organs, in insufficient experience of the surgeon in charge of operations due to objectively prevailing circumstances. These errors are considered to be the ones in good faith and don’t imply criminal prosecution. Imperfection of medical knowledge and surgical approaches leads to an accident in medical practice, for example, in cases where a minor intervention ends with fatal bleeding. However, in these situations it is necessary to find out whether the doctor provides the possible complications of such an operation, or they arise as a result of the above circumstances (unusual anatomical structure, congenital organ malformation, etc.). Only a commission of experts, taking into account all the circumstances may give an opinion on the occurrence of death due to an accident or due to careless actions of a physician.

The legal responsibilities of a health care worker in case of professional offense is a broad concept. The crime can be committed either intentionally or through negligence. A crime is considered to be negligent if a medical worker that committed it foresaw the risk of socially dangerous consequences that the actions (or inactions) could cause, but for some reason didn’t facilitate their prevention either; in some cases a person just didn’t foresee the consequences, although they should have and could have been foreseen. In this situation, two different forms of negligence are considered: the one designated as a criminal arrogance, the other one as a criminal negligence. The cases of criminal negligence are not really rare, since only around 38% of claimants get compensation in the courts, meaning that the amount of criminal cases has a potential of climbing up to 15-17%, according to solicitors.guru, an expert online platform in medical negligence, gathering hundreds of medical negligence solicitors under one roof.

Overconfidence is defined as the prediction of the probability of occurrence of dangerous consequences produced by action or inaction, coupled with their frivolous expectation of prevention the damaging effects.

In medical practice there are such concepts as ‘medical risk’ and ‘risk in medicine’. The concept of ‘risk’ is clearly defined by the existing laws. The criminal law distinguishes between justified, legitimate risk and unlawful, unnecessary risk. The risk is legitimate and necessary when a potentially unsafe action is taken to achieve a reasonable purpose. One of the conditions to achieve a useful purpose can be a situation where the onset of harmful consequences must be a possibility, not the inevitable result of risky actions. Thus, the risks of undesired complications during surgery are possible, but not inevitable.