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More tests, procedures, can mean unexpected complications

Medical mistakes can come in many forms in Maryland. Some errors are failures in technique and judgment. On the other hand, mistakes may be caused by ignorance or recklessness, which could be deemed medical malpractice.

While the exact nature of each mistake may differ, the one thing that remains the same is that the patient suffers. Maryland patients experiencing pain or suffering due to a doctor's errors might find the following information on medical and physician mistakes interesting.

According to a 1999 Institute of Medicine report, nearly 100,000 patients in the United States died annually as a result of medical mistakes. Today, that number has nearly doubled by some estimates. The report notes that it is reasonable to believe that medical mistakes cause the death of nearly 200,000 people in this country annually. This makes medical errors one of the leading causes of death in the country.

One theory concerning the rise in serious medical mistakes is that doctors are pushing patients into harm's way by ordering unnecessary tests and procedures. For example, the number of MRI scans has increased significantly in recent years. Furthermore, compared to other nations, U.S. doctors perform significantly more procedures than those in any other country. While some may be necessary, many are not.

The problem with this approach to medicine is that no matter how careful a doctor is, every new test introduces a greater likelihood of error and unexpected complications. MRI scans, for example, could provide inaccurate results and lead physicians to perform unnecessary operations, which may cause further harm. Those who suffer due to these types of error may have to turn to a medical malpractice claim to recover compensation that may be due for the extra medical expenses incurred as a result of the doctor errors.

Ironically, the increase in such tests is believed to be driven by doctors' fear of malpractice. Yet ordering unnecessary procedures and exams may actually be hurting patients in the process. Regardless of the reasoning that led to the error, whether caution or misdiagnosis, those who fall victim to doctor error in Maryland have the right to recover compensation to help deal with the consequences.

Source: CNN.com, "More is not always better in medicine," Sanjay Gupta, July 31, 2012

  • The issues discussed in this post are similar to those handled by our firm. Readers are invited to learn more about our practice by visiting our Baltimore County surgical errors page.


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Law Offices of W. Scott Sonntag, P.A.
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