A study by the Indiana State Department of Health shows that serious medical errors are on the rise in Indiana. According to the recently released report, 111 errors occurred in 2013 at 293 facilities across the state – the highest number since reporting began in 2006.
The Indiana Medical Error Reporting System lists 28 reportable categories of medical error, and requires medical facilities to submit reports of serious adverse events covered by the reporting system.
An Indianapolis Star article detailed some of the medical mistakes made last year. The full data on the Indiana State Department of Health site is available separately. Information for specific hospitals are catalogued, as well as reporting data for medical facilities organized by county. Here are a few of the more common ones:
This condition, also known as pressure ulcers, was the most frequently reported medical error reported in 2013 with 45 incidents of stage three or four bedsores reported (the most in a year since the state began collecting medical error data in 2006). Patients confined to bed, particularly the elderly, are prone to bedsores, and medical professionals must be alert to avoid this preventable condition.
Foreign objects left in patients
While the state does not require medical facilities to provide details on what kinds of objects are left in patients after surgeries, the report showed that medical professionals made this error 27 times. Surgical objects commonly left behind include needles, sponges and small instruments. Foreign objects do not include surgical staples or clips; in most cases those are necessary and designed to be left in the body.
Operations on the wrong body part
On 13 occasions last year surgeons in Indiana hospitals operated on the wrong body parts of patients body, and did so in five cases at ambulatory surgery centers. Several different types of mistakes fall into this category. One example is when a doctor numbs the wrong leg of a patient while preparing for a surgery and then realizes his or her mistake before beginning the procedure.
According to the article, anywhere between 700,000 and 1 million patients fall in hospitals nationwide each year, with half of those incidents leading to an injury. The report revealed 12 incidents where patients fell in Indiana nursing homes and hospitals and suffered either a serious disability or death as a result.
At Baker and Gilchrist, our attorneys are familiar with these serious medical mistakes on the rise in Indiana. Rex Baker and Caroline Gilchrist, with the help of the nurses they have on staff, can evaluate for you whether you have suffered a serious medical error that could potentially result in a medical malpractice claim.
Taking Action if You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice in Indiana
Not all medical errors rise to the level of medical malpractice. Proving medical malpractice requires evidence that a medical professional’s actions or inactions fell short of the medical standard of care – essentially what a reasonable medical professional would have done in the same or similar situation. However, errors such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving surgical instruments in a patient are likely egregious enough to constitute medical malpractice, if they also caused significant harm.
It is challenging to prove medical malpractice, and it takes the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to give you the best chance of achieving a successful result should you have suffered an injury as the result of actions or inactions by medical professionals.
The procedure is lengthy and detailed. At the outset, you must file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance, where a team of physicians will review the claim and provide an opinion whether the treating medical professionals failed to follow the appropriate standard of care. This review process, required by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, can take as long as six months. Once the panel issues its opinion, the injured patient and his or her attorney must decide whether filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is warranted.
A Baker & Gilchrist, medical malpractice attorney can evaluate your medical records and help you decide if taking legal action will be in your best interests. If we believe it is, we can then prepare your claim and submit it to the review panel, helping guide you through the entire process.