The Law Offices of John Phebus

Medical malpractice: negligence matters

Medical malpractice isn't about innocent mistakes. It's about negligence.

When you go to a Phoenix surgeon for a follow-up visit after knee surgery and the doctor asks to see your left knee rather than the right knee that was operated on, that's a mistake. Momentarily forgetting which knee had the surgery is the kind of error everyone makes. However, when a surgeon does a knee replacement on the wrong leg, that's when it's time to call an attorney experienced in medical malpractice.

Robert Weissman, president of health and safety advocacy's Public Citizen, writes in the congressional news publication The Hill that doctors and hospitals should focus more of their energies on improving patient safety and less on railing against medical malpractice claims. He notes that those who take steps to eliminate preventable errors often improve their patient safety performance.

He cites successful efforts by Ascension Health to reduce brain trauma, as well as by the Hospital Corporation of America to reduce maternal fatalities, and by a New York hospital to drastically reduce newborn brain injuries due to oxygen deprivation.

One simple step doctors and hospitals can take to reduce risks to babies is to discourage birth induction before the woman hits her 39th week of pregnancy -- unless there's a medical reason to do it.

There are many other steps public safety experts recommend for hospital administrators, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to take. When the steps are taken, fewer Americans will be injured by negligent doctors and fewer will need an attorney to help them pursue compensation for their injuries, surgeries, lost income and pain and suffering.

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