Medical errors are a major concern for hospital patients in Arizona and around the country. According to a study published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, medical errors in the United States caused 251,000 deaths in 2013 and are now considered the third leading cause of death. After a patient is injured or killed by a medical error, the health care providers that were responsible for the patient's care are often sued for medical malpractice.
Doctors and hospitals that wish to improve their quality of care or at least avoid being sued are now studying medical malpractice lawsuits. A malpractice insurance provider has studied over 10,000 medical malpractice cases and used the information to compile data about common medical mistakes. The medical malpractice data is distributed to doctors and hospitals in an effort to help them avoid common pitfalls that lead to malpractice claims.
Scripps Mercy is a hospital that has made use of data that was mined from malpractice lawsuits. Because it cares for a lot of people injured by stingray punctures at the beach, the hospital looked at the insurance provider's data involving emergency room care. Scripps Mercy was able to determine that a lot of malpractice cases involve a failure to detect infections or foreign bodies in wounds. After reviewing the data, it decided to have a doctor inspect every major wound before the wound was stitched closed.
Hospital-acquired infections are a common error that could lead to a worsened medical condition. They are not always the result of negligence, however, and an attorney for a patient who has been so harmed will attempt to demonstrate that the failure to prevent the infection constituted a breach of the hospital's duty of care.