Medical Malpractice More Common Than You May Think November 30, 2010.

"If you were around in the ’70s, you may recall a study done on medical malpractice insurance," says Chris Mellino. "It revealed that one out of every 20 patients suffered injuries and one in 10 died. It was hoped at that time that this information would influence doctors to change their ways, and that the numbers would go down by the next study. "If you’re thinking the numbers are likely even higher now, you’d be right. Just about 100,000 people across the U.S. die every year as a result of medical malpractice.

The most common forms include birth injury, surgical mistakes, infection, septicemia, bleeding, failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, and medication errors.

"That’s pretty scary stuff when you stop to think about it, because it covers a whole gamut of things that could go wrong when you are under the care of a doctor," Mellino said.

Birth injuries are not just injuries to the baby; they also include the mother and may happen if the doctor does not provide adequate care prior to, during or after the birth. It may be that no blood tests were given to detect abnormalities, that fetal distress was not recognized in time, that a necessary C-section was delayed or that in a rush to deliver the baby, bones were broken.

"Any one of those errors or a combination of them could end in the baby being diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, a clavical fracture and facial paralysis. It’s not much wonder that mothers worry themselves sick over what may happen during birth," Mellino said. "For the most part, doctors do a fine job of delivering babies. It’s just that sometimes, bad things happen, and when they do, something needs to be done about it."

Operating room injuries are the subject of horror movies and indeed, many people who have been injured as a result of a surgical error certainly feel like they’ve been in a horror movie. After all, they trusted their doctor and thought they would get better. Instead, they may end up in worse condition than when they went into surgery or die on the table.

There are many things that can go wrong in the OR, such as the anesthetist giving the wrong dose of anesthesia at the wrong time, puncturing or cutting an internal organ, operating on the wrong body part or patient, leaving instruments or sponges in the patient on closing or failing to treat infections that may arise after an operation. This isn’t to say this happens all the time, but the numbers do indicate things like this happen with a greater frequency than we might like.