Medical mistakes: Physician liability & discipline

Medical mistakes, according to popular news sources, may be the third largest leading of death in the U.S. Why are medical errors so prevalent? Is there a culture among physicians in which errors are covered up or not questioned?

In a new Fox television series, "The Resident," a young doctor and colleagues are aware of the error rate of a senior supervising physician and as the storyline goes, the young docs fear career and reputation damage if they were to report the senior doctors’ surgical error rate.

Common medical mistakes:

  1. Patient identification errors;

  2. Treating the wrong patient;

  3. Failure to timely treat a patient;

  4. Operating on the wrong body part;

  5. Leaving medical equipment inside a patient;

  6. Anesthetic failures causing patients to awaken;

  7. Failure to prevent infections by hand washing; and

  8. Incorrectly identifying medical tubing and equipment

Experts say medical errors kill more than 250,000 annually

With so much attention and reporting about medical mistakes and malpractice, it is fair to say that efforts are made to help healthcare professionals prevent medical errors. Some physicians have unique methods to incorporate systems they use to prevent mistakes. Something as simple as a redundant system to double check information accuracy can lead to the discovery of a mistake before it happens.

Medical staff and administrators must also use care in working as a team to ensure the efficient delivery of quality medical services without error. Just as school students practice fire drills, healthcare professionals can practice mistake prevention drills.

Licensing attorney: Preventing medical mistakes

Chicago healthcare and licensing attorney, Michael V. Favia, frequently recommends all doctors, dentists and nursing professionals be prepared to answer questions about how they actively seek to prevent medical mistakes. If they cannot offer suggestions, there are clear opportunities for improvement and loss mitigation.

Relying on physician malpractice and hospital insurance and policy is insufficient to protect one’s medical license and career. Knowing how and what to say in documentation to a variety of regulatory boards and agencies is vital. What may feel straight forward and matter of fact to one doctor, may cause another to be reasonably alerted, and often for good reasons such as personal experience.

Favia frequently reminds healthcare professional client that every decision and action can reach further downstream than we usually anticipate. Simply settling a malpractice claim without any admission of liability, can come back to haunt any licensed healthcare professional, especially when licensed in multiple states.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. Please visit and feel free to "Like" the firm on Facebook and "Follow" the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his profile and on LinkedIn.

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