A 2013 study published in the Journal of Patient Safety found that up to 440,000 patients die every year because of medical errors. This would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer. One type of error that can lead to serious harm or even death is performing the wrong treatment.
Patients who suffer harm because of a medical professional’s error have the right to file a lawsuit to recover damages. Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC can help – call us at (360) 459-5600.
Causes of Treatment Errors
Treatment errors occur for a variety of reasons. For example, a treatment error may occur because the condition from which the patient is suffering is beyond the scope of the doctor’s knowledge or training, and he or she fails to refer the patient to an appropriate specialist. Or a treatment error may occur because of a diagnostic error – a patient’s condition may go undiagnosed or the doctor may misdiagnose it and order an ineffective, or even harmful, treatment.
Communication errors between doctors and nurses can cause errors during the treatment process, including administering the wrong treatment on the wrong patient. There are many other possible causes of a treatment-related error. Talk to an attorney to review the specifics of your case.
The Difference Between Wrong Treatment and Poor Outcomes
It’s important to note that there is a difference between a doctor administering the wrong treatment and the patient simply receiving a poor outcome. The former refers to an error made during the treatment process – medication error, use of an outdated treatment method, use of treatment record with poor track record, etc.
The latter – a poor outcome – is different. If the doctor made the correct choice in treatment, administered the right treatment and performed it correctly, but the patient responded poorly to the treatment, the doctor may not be liable for any damages.
The following provides an example of the difference between wrong treatment and poor outcome.
Two patients are suffering from a form of cancer that is treatable with chemotherapy. Two different doctors are treating the patients. The first patient’s doctor decides that the patient should not undergo chemotherapy, despite mounting evidence suggesting that the patient could benefit from it. He instead prescribes an experimental treatment with little to no evidence of efficacy. As such, the patient does not receive chemotherapy, and the cancer progresses.
The second patient’s doctor decides his patient should undergo chemotherapy and starts treatment immediately. Despite following all protocol and relying on the latest medical research, the patient does not respond to the chemotherapy, and the cancer progresses.
In the two examples above, a court is likely to find that only the first doctor made a treatment error. A doctor only commits medical malpractice when he or she fails to execute the duty to a patient properly.
You May File a Medical Malpractice Suit for Wrong Treatment
If you did not receive treatment that you should have, if the doctor made an error when administering the treatment or you otherwise received negligent care, then you may have a medical malpractice case. In Washington State, you must file suit within three years of the malpractice, so contact a lawyer today.
The attorneys at Ron Meyers & Associates PLLC, will take a look at your case during a free consultation and decide whether or not you have a solid claim. If you do, we’ll help you file your lawsuit for damages and fight to protect your interests. Call us today at (360) 459-5600 to set up your appointment so you can get started.