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Preventable Hospital Deaths that Happen Every Year

Patients are admitted to the hospital for ailments, or because they are scheduled to surgery, many of those patients die, but not from what brought them to the hospital in the first place. These deaths are caused by preventable medical errors.

How Frequently Does This Occur?

Last fall the Journal of Patient Safety published a new study that found a shocking 440,000 deaths occur every year from medical errors that are very preventable. Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death, behind car accidents, diabetes, and other illness (not counting cancer or heart disease).

What do 440,000 mistakes look like?

  • Sponges closed inside the patient
  • Incorrect dosage of medication
  • Incorrect medication
  • Contamination from medical devices and equipment

Medical malpractice is a negligent act or omission by a doctor, nurse or other medical professional. To error might be human, but this degree of needless suffering and death is inhumane and should not be tolerated. There are several factors in medical malpractice lawsuits, and they can be expensive and complicated.

Hospital Death Facts

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin term meaning "the thing speaks for itself." This category of negligence is discovered through circumstantial evidence. This would apply to cases where sponges or another medical instrument was left inside the patient after surgery or if the wrong limb was amputated. Res ipsa loquitur has three elements:

  1. The event would not have happened without negligence.
  2. The evidence proves the plaintiff or other party had no hand it causing the injury.
  3. The negligence falls within the duty the defendant had to the plaintiff.

Respondent superior is important when determining how a victim will be compensated for the injury or wrongful death. The legal doctrine of respondent superior exists when the employer is negligent through the acts of its employees, the doctors, nurses, or other professionals; in the case of medical malpractice, it would be the hospital. This holds as long as the employee was acting within the scope of their employment when the negligence occurred.

How Can You Fight These Wrongdoings?

Multiple defendants are very common in medical malpractice lawsuits. There are cases when the action of one doctor or nurse made the deadly mistake. However, many times more than one person is involved. There are many doctors and nurses in the operating room, so a determination has to be made when assigning the blame for the medical negligence.

In Texas, wrongful death lawsuits can be initiated by a parent, child, or spouse of the deceased victim. The estate, though a personal representative also has standing to sue. No amount of compensation will restore the victim; however, recovery of compensation can assist the family if the victim was the primary wage earner or had a financial obligation to the family. In wrongful death cases, punitive damages are very important, in addition to the actual expenses of the medical bills, funeral expenses and other miscellaneous expenses.

If your loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, you need to retain the services of an experienced and aggressive Austin attorney to help you in receiving the compensation you and your family deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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    Robert Alden: 2005, 2006, 2008-2019
    Kevin Henrichson: 2017-2019
    Rising Star: 2005-08, 2013-14
    Derek Davis: Rising Star 2004

    Super Lawyers are chosen by Thomson Reuters and published in Texas Monthly Magazine

  • Don Davis:
    Personal Injury Litigation 1993-2014
    Legal Malpractice Law 2014

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    Commercial Litigation 2006-2020
    Bet-the-Company Litigation 2010-2020
    Personal Injury Litigation 2011-2020
    Lawyer of the Year – Personal Injury 2012
    Lawyer of the Year – Bet-the-Company Litigation 2019

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