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Doctor learned about medical malpractice from mother's treatment

Atlanta residents are fortunate to live in a city that offers exceptional health care facilities. But even the most skilled medical care providers can make mistakes, and unfortunately these mistakes sometimes cause serious injury to a patient. From a failure to diagnose to a surgery error, doctor negligence is often at the core of medical malpractice lawsuits.

In the course of medical school, physicians receive specialized training intended to teach them to minimize the risk of errors. But for one doctor, these lessons were best learned while observing the treatment of her mother as she was fighting breast cancer.

The physician's mother was in the care of doctors at a nationally ranked hospital. However, despite the hospital's reputation, the woman's mother experienced a number of complications due to hospital staff mistakes and facility safety issues. For instance, a repeated medication error caused the cancer patient to receive a week's worth of the wrong chemotherapy drug before the mistake was discovered. In another incident, the doctor's mother fell from her bed. An alarm was in place to alert nurses if this should happen, but the alarm was not plugged in.

The doctor attributes many of these issues to overworked hospital staff. Physicians are expected to multitask yet at the same time remember every detail of every patient they treat. She also commented that many hospitals fail to track error reports, which means the same mistake can be made over and over again.

It is important to remember that heath care professionals are humans, and humans are prone to error. But in American medical culture, the doctor-patient relationship is built on trust. Patients trust their physicians to provide them with quality care because the doctor has expert knowledge. Doctors are expected to conduct themselves with a high standard of care, and when this standard is breached, patients can be injured.

With the help of a skilled personal injury attorney, a victim of doctor negligence can sue for medical malpractice. In a successful suit, an injured party can recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and even emotional trauma.

Source: Pro Publica, "What a New Doctor Learned About Medical Mistakes From Her Mom's Death," Marshall Allen, Jan. 9, 2013

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