Between 70% and 80% of surgeons in Colorado and throughout the U.S. never receive a complaint about unprofessional behavior. Of those who do, most show a willingness to improve their performance. Still, that leaves a small group of surgeons who are both negligent and hard to work with. This combination can have a negative impact on patient health and safety.
Colorado residents should know that two recent studies have linked the majority of malpractice claims with misdiagnosis. In a 2017 study involving 62,966 malpractice claims filed by hospital patients, University of Michigan researchers found that 22 percent involved misdiagnosis. Two years earlier, the National Academy of Medicine stated that diagnostic errors may be the third leading cause of death among hospitalized patients.
Some people in Colorado may be misdiagnosed because they suffer from a rare disease. In the United States, a rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 people in the country annually. For many rare diseases, treatments are few or are more effective at earlier stages, but the disease is rarely detected in time. Half of all people who suffer from rare diseases are children.
Medical professionals in Colorado and throughout the country may be placed in a tough spot when it comes to prescribing medication. If they pick the wrong medication or prescribe the wrong does, it could result in patient harm. However, failing to prescribe any medication at all could lead to speculation that a doctor isn't meeting a patient's needs either. In either scenario, a doctor could face a malpractice lawsuit.
Patients in Colorado may be worried about their own future operations after learning about a case when a woman lost her healthy kidney because a surgeon mistook it for a cancerous tumor. During what was scheduled to be a routine back surgery in April 2016, the 51-year-old woman checked into a local hospital. She was seeking a fusion of bones in her lower back after she had been injured in a car accident. However, when she went into surgery, the physician performing the operation identified her kidney and proclaimed it to be a tumor, declaring the situation an emergency and removing it immediately.