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Medical malpractice is an issue that both physicians and patients hope to avoid, being a source of stress and costs for the first and a cause of pain and suffering for the latter. This happens when a healthcare provider, be it a hospital, clinic, doctor or other health professional, causes harm to a patient by failing to provide adequate treatment.
According to Long Island medical malpractice attorney Christopher R. Dean, Senior Partner at the law firm Dell & Dean, PLLC, there are many errors that can lead to malpractice, including misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, prescription errors, mistaken patients’ identity, undertreatment, overtreatment, emergency room mistakes, birth injuries and so on.
Unfortunately, malpractice remains a reality in the medical world that we often have to deal with, being a relatively common occurrence in the United States. What’s more, as the likelihood of falling victim to medical malpractice wasn’t scary enough already, the Covid-19 pandemic appear to have made things worse by increasing the number of medical malpractice claims and lawsuits.
Data provided by independent organizations that monitor civil litigations in the U.S. reveals that the health crisis caused a spike in the number of medical malpractice claims which rose by 25% in 2021, and the rates continued to increase in 2022. But how exactly do these figures link to the outbreak?
The impact of the Covid pandemic has been far-ranging, bringing major transformations in nearly all areas of life and the economy. The whole world had to adapt to the new normal, which implied wearing face masks, staying indoors, transitioning to a work-from-home model, homeschooling, and quarantines. But there’s no doubt that the medical sector was hit the hardest.
When the pandemic debuted in 2019, no one was prepared for what was about to come. Healthcare providers were suddenly faced with a large number of patients and a virus that no one knew anything about. Soon after the outbreak started, medical systems across the world realized they were not prepared to handle a health crisis of these proportions. The additional workload, staffing shortages, the huge amounts of stress and the increased health risks they exposed themselves to, along with all the chaos that ensued from the Covid-19 pandemic, left health professionals in a vulnerable position and increased the risk of unintentional medical errors.
One should also keep in mind that medical malpractice is much more difficult to detect than other types of injuries. In many cases, the signs are subtle, and it might take a long time for the patient to notice the symptoms. In the context of the pandemic, with overcrowded hospitals and overworked doctors, it became even more difficult for patients to gain access to the necessary care and treatments and figure out what was happening to them.
The health crisis exacerbated the shortcomings in the medical system and brought unprecedented challenges to the sector, so the high number of medical malpractice cases is a direct consequence of this unfortunate situation. Hopefully, now that the pandemic has subsided, both medical and legal professionals can resume normal activity.