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Survey reports leading causes of medical malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs at an alarming rate in the United States. Montana residents may be interested to learn that most doctors will be sued at least once during their careers. A recent survey of physicians showed that 80 percent of respondents over the age of 60 had been named in a malpractice lawsuit.

The survey also provided some interesting information about the reasons for malpractice lawsuits. The top three reasons doctors say they were sued were: failure to diagnose, cited by 31 percent of respondents; abnormal patient injury, also cited by 31 percent; and failure to treat, cited by 12 percent of responding doctors.

Other reasons reported in the survey include: medication errors, cited by 4 percent of the doctors; inadequate documentation of patient education and instruction, also 4 percent; not following safety procedures, 3 percent; and failure to obtain informed consent from the patient before undertaking a procedure or course of treatment, cited by 3 percent of the doctors.

Medical malpractice occurs when a physician fails to meet the prevailing standard of care in their specialty, and the patient suffers injury, death or a worsened medical condition as a result. When a patient is injured or killed by doctor error, they or their surviving next of kin have the right to bring a lawsuit and seek compensation.

Proving medical malpractice is not easy. It requires an exhaustive review of medical records and extensive consultation with medical experts. Courts in Montana require testimony by expert physicians to prove malpractice occurred.

Source: Becker's Hospital Review, "Top 3 reasons for medical malpractice lawsuits," Emily Rappleye, Dec. 9, 2015

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