Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that one in ten deaths in the United States results from preventable healthcare provider negligence

While medical errors can occur in any healthcare setting, many happen in higher-volume hospitals and medical practices. 

Patient Data from The University of Michigan/Michigan Health

The University of Michigan/Michigan Health organization operates one of the largest medical centers in Michigan. Its facility has more than 1,100 beds, ranking it among the 50 largest healthcare systems in the country. The organization has continually been a nationally ranked medical care provider and has enjoyed an outstanding reputation since its founding in 1850. 

Because of this reputation, Michigan Medicine treats a tremendously high volume of sick and injured individuals. In 2021, the Michigan Medicine system treated more than 2.6 million patients. A breakdown of all University of Michigan Health’s patient visits for the year includes:

  • 2,645,178 patient clinic visits.
  • 46,477 hospital discharges.
  • 67,514 surgeries.
  • 2.6 million outpatient clinic visits.
  • 4,839 deliveries.
  • 94,785 emergency room visits.
  • 1,232 survival flight missions.  

Given the high number of patient visits, surgeries, deliveries, and other visits, many medical errors are inevitable, even at such an esteemed institution.

How Do Medical Errors Occur?

The term “medical error” implies someone made a mistake related to a patient’s treatment. A medical error differs from an “adverse event,” in which a patient’s outcome is not what they hoped or expected. Medical errors involve the negligence of a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, surgeon, or other healthcare provider.

Medical errors can occur in many ways. Fatigue and distraction are two common causes. When medical personnel are overworked and under-rested, they are more likely to make an error or fail to catch a potential error before it affects a patient. 

Understaffing and improper supervision also cause errors. Stretching resources too thin can erode redundancy, or “checks and balances,” that help protect patients. For example, a busy pharmacist may not notice that a doctor’s written prescription is for ten times the standard dose of a medication and fill it for a harmful dose. Or a charge nurse may sign off on the administration of medication without thoroughly checking the patient’s records and noticing a potentially hazardous interaction. 

Who Is Liable for a Medical Error?

When a medical error occurs, both the healthcare provider who made the mistake and the facility that employs them may be legally “at fault.” The law generally holds hospitals, practice groups, doctor’s offices, and health systems responsible for the negligent acts of their employees. Thus, if a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or physical therapist makes a mistake, the provider’s facility is usually named a defendant in any subsequent medical malpractice lawsuit.

The facility also may be independently liable if its actions created an unsafe environment or otherwise contributed to the error. Failure to provide adequate staffing, failure to provide safety equipment, improper cleaning and safety protocols, unsafe management of medication, and other organizational deficiencies can lead to errors — and liability.

Schedule a Free, No-Obligation Consultation with a Michigan Medical Error Lawyer at Sommers Schwartz, P.C.

If you or a loved one recently received medical treatment that led to new or worsening injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation. At the law firm of Sommers Schwartz, P.C., our Michigan medical malpractice lawyers understand the challenges you and your family face and want to help you recover what you deserve.

Our attorneys are recognized among the country’s most highly experienced and skilled medical malpractice lawyers. With our help, you can hold a negligent medical provider responsible for your injuries and pursue meaningful compensation for yourself and your family. Contact us today!