We’ve all heard about clinical or medical negligence or malpractice and we’ve all been shocked at hearing that patients left hospitals with foreign objects inside their bodies or with the wrong procedure being done on them or, even worse, didn’t left the hospital at all. However appalling these issues may have been at first, now medical malpractice is, unfortunately, a quite frequent occurrence and in many cases it has life changing consequences. Below, you can read about what are the most common and uncommon cases of clinical negligence and the experiences of patients who have suffered from negligent treatment and the terrible aftermath that followed.
A recent study has shown that the most common medical error that constitutes as negligent behaviour on the part of the doctor, as well as the hospital as an institution, is operating on the wrong patient. Getting the right patient in the right OR for the right procedure is the task and duty of several people within the administration of the hospital, as well as the nursing staff and the OR prep staff, but ultimately it is the surgeon’s responsibility to check the patient’s file right before surgery and make sure he or she is the right patient. A less common clinical negligence occurrence related to surgery and the OR is patients catching on fire. Several cases in the US and not only were registered where patients have suffered second and third-degree burns or even died because they caught on fire while they were on the operating table.
The second most common cases of clinical malpractice are those in which doctors operate on the wrong side or part of the body. An alarming number of cases in which patients had the wrong limb amputated, or a healthy organ removed, have been registered along the years. Some of these cases had terrible consequences, leaving people disabled for life, as in the case of Willie King who has both his legs amputated, or even causing the death of the patient, as in the case of Graham Reeves who died after two different surgeons removed the wrong kidney. What doesn’t happen so often is to be disfigured by your dentist on a wrong cancer diagnosis, as it happened to Kim Tutt, who went to the dentist for a jaw X-ray. The dentist saw a lump on her jaw and misdiagnosed her with cancer, giving her a 3 to 6 months life expectancy, which determined Kim to have a disfiguring surgery to gain more time. Three months after the surgery, she was called back and told she never had cancer and that there had been a mix up at the lab.
Surgical errors seem to be the most common ones and even some of the less common cases happen in an OR or at least within a hospital. Foreign objects are being stitched inside patients or the wrong dosage of treatment is being administered, but medical negligence happens outside hospitals as well. A very unusual case of malpractice involved a psychiatrist who treated a patient that had been sexually abused by his mother. The psychiatrist invoked a new form of therapy called reparenting and she simulated being her patient’s mother in different stages of lifespan. He made him call her mother and tell her he loved her, as well as other cue cards lines that were more erotic. They also had sexual relations and he committed suicide after five years.