Hospital Errors in Washington

When you go to the hospital or a surgical center for medical treatment, the last thing that you expect is to be injured or have a poor outcome because of a mistake that your health care team may make. Yet far too often, medical errors harm patients in hospitals throughout the state of Washington.

According to data from the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, hospital errors are the most common reason for medical malpractice lawsuits. Out of 4,328 claims in a 5 year period, nearly half – 1,744 – were attributed to errors or improper performance. If you are hurt due to a mistake or error made by a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professionals at a hospital, then you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover financial compensation for your injuries.

At Menzer Law, we aggressively advocate for injury victims throughout Washington – including patients harmed by medical errors. With decades of experience, we are well-equipped to get you the compensation that you deserve for your losses. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced and award-winning Seattle medical malpractice attorney.

Hospital Errors: The Leading Cause of WA Medical Malpractice Claims

In Washington, the Insurance Commissioner collects information on all medical malpractice claims filed, closed, and resolved within the state. This data is then compiled into a report that is available to the public.

The most recent report covers medical malpractice claims from 2015 to 2019. It shows that the most common reason that patients file medical malpractice claims is due to errors/improper performance by hospital staff.

In this time period, 1,744 lawsuits for error/improper performance were filed, including cases involving:

  • Improper performance: 714 claims
  • Improper technique: 243 claims
  • Improper management: 211 claims
  • Patient history, exam, or workup problem: 65 claims
  • Surgical or other foreign body retained: 61 claims
  • Patient monitoring problem: 47 claims
  • Wrong dosage of medication administered: 37 claims
  • Wrong medication ordered: 36 claims
  • Wrong medication administered: 35 claims
  • Wrong body part operated on: 29 claims
  • Equipment utilization problem: 29 claims
  • Wrong diagnosis or misdiagnosis: 24 claims
  • Intubation problem: 23 claims
  • Wrong procedure or treatment: 22 claims
  • Wrong medication dispensed: 20 claims
  • Patient positioning problem: 16 claims

These medical malpractice statistics show that adverse events are often linked directly to a medical professional making a mistake. For example, a physician that performs a procedure poorly may injure their patient. Similarly, medication errors – like giving the wrong medication or the incorrect dose – can cause harm to patients.

Hospital errors significantly affect patient safety in the American healthcare system. According to research from the National Institute of Health (NIH), as many as 98,000 people die each year due to medical errors that occur in hospitals. It has become so problematic that health officials from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have announced that they will not pay for treatment linked to medical errors, such as hospital-acquired infections.

What Types of Hospital Errors Are Most Common?

The data shows that the most common type of medical error that occurs at a hospital is improper performance or treatment. This category covers a wide range of issues; common hospital errors include.

  • Adverse drug events;
  • Improper transfusions;
  • Misdiagnosis;
  • Under and overtreatment;
  • Surgical injuries;
  • Wrong-site surgery;
  • Suicides;
  • Restraint-related injuries or death;
  • Falls;
  • Burns;
  • Pressure ulcers; and
  • Mistaken patient identities.

Patients may also suffer harm if they are sent home too early, if they acquire an infection while at a hospital, or if a diagnosis is delayed. The placement of medical devices can also lead to injury. In some cases, a failure in communication between clinicians – such as one doctor ordering a medication that another physician isn’t aware of – can make a patient incredibly sick.

Medical errors often occur in the intensive care unit due to the complexity of care and severity of illnesses. For example, a cardiothoracic surgeon delays an operation for an acute condition on a patient in the ICU, and the patient dies as a result. If a reasonably prudent cardiothoracic surgeon would have operated immediately, then the surgeon may be held liable for medical negligence.

Medical errors are a type of preventable harm. In many cases, if health care organizations instituted policies and procedures designed to improve patient safety – such as shorter shifts for providers to reduce fatigue – it can result in higher quality care and fewer hospital errors.

Can You File a Lawsuit for a Hospital Error?

If you have been injured due to poor medical care at a hospital, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the healthcare professional and/or the hospital itself. A hospital negligence lawyer can help you with the process.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is based on a theory of negligence.  To win this type of claim, you will need to show that a healthcare professional who made the medical error did not meet the standard of care. This means that they did not exercise the degree of care, skill, and learning expected of a reasonably prudent healthcare provider at the time, in the profession or class to which they belong, in the State of Washington, acting in the same or similar circumstances.

A lawsuit can help you get the money that you need to move forward with your life. Through a settlement or verdict at trial, you may recover compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Disfigurement
  • Scarring
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

Insurance companies are often reluctant to pay medical malpractice victims fair compensation for their injuries. After all, they make massive profits by underpaying or denying claims. The best way to ensure that you get the full amount of money that you deserve is by working with a seasoned medical negligence lawyer who will fight to protect your rights.

Can You Sue a Hospital for a Medical Error?

If a healthcare organization or hospital staff makes a mistake that rises to the level of medical negligence, then you can file a lawsuit against the hospital for your injuries. These cases are based on the standard of care for a particular medical practice. If another medical professional with similar education or experience would not have committed this type of error – such as giving the wrong medication – then you can sue the hospital and/or physician.

Hospitals have a responsibility to keep patients safe. When they fail to do so, then they may be liable for any injury that results. Reach out to our law firm to talk to a Seattle medical negligence attorney about your case.

How Long Do You Have to File a Hospital Errors Lawsuit?

In Washington, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is 3 years. This time limit starts to run when the medical error occurred. Alternatively, if you did not learn about the medical error right away, then the statute of limitations is 1 year from the date that you discovered the error, or reasonably could have discovered it.

Because medical negligence cases are complex, it is important to reach out to a hospital negligence lawyer as soon as possible after you learn about a medical error. Doing so will protect your legal rights – and help to ensure that you get the money that you deserve for your injuries.

How Much Can You Get in a Hospital Error Lawsuit?

The value of your medical negligence case is based on a number of factors, such as the severity of your injury and whether you are expected to make a full recovery. Generally, the more serious your injury, the higher your settlement or verdict at trial will be. A hospital negligence lawyer can give you an estimate of the value of your case during a free initial consultation.

Insurance companies aggressively defend against these types of lawsuits. Having a skilled attorney who has experience taking on insurers – and winning – is vital if you want to get maximum compensation. Contact the Menzer Law today to learn about how we can help you get the money that you deserve for your injuries.

Hurt By a Medical Error? We’re Here for You.

When you go to the hospital, you expect to receive quality medical care. If your health care team makes a medical error that leads to injury or death, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. Our law office will work with you to get you the money that you deserve for your losses.

Based in Seattle, the Menzer Law represents injury victims throughout Washington. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a hospital error lawyer, give us a call at 206.903.1818 or fill out our online contact form.