As a patient, you expect that the physician who treats you is well qualified and trained in the area in which he or she is practicing. Unfortunately, you may not have adequate information about the doctor’s background or experience. This is especially true when you go to the hospital due to an emergency.
Too often, the inexperience of the physician or lack of training in a specific area can lead to serious harm being suffered by patients. For instance, a doctor who is a specialist in one area may be called to work in a different specialty. Because the inexperienced doctor is unfamiliar with this area, the doctor may misdiagnose a patient or make an error in performing a procedure. In some cases, a patient may be treated by a resident who is in training, overworked and simply over their head.
Our Attorney Can Help People Harmed By Inexperienced Physicians
When the inexperience of a physician, nurse or medical technician causes a patient to suffer harm, the doctor and/or the medical center or hospital that employs them should be held accountable for the lack of training.
The Indianapolis medical malpractice attorney at the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson helps patients and families who have been injured by inexperienced physician mistakes. We work with medical professionals who we know and trust to evaluate instances of malpractice so we can answer the questions that patients and their families come to us with.
With over 15 years of litigation experience, Kelley J. Johnson has the knowledge and skills to hold physicians who have harmed patients because of their inexperience accountable. Contact us at our toll-free number or through our online form for a free review of your case.
Diagnostic Errors By Inexperienced Doctors
Missed or delayed medical diagnoses by inexperienced physicians are all too common. In fact, The Washington Post reported in May 2013 that diagnoses that are “missed, incorrect or delayed are believed to affect 10 to 20 percent of cases, far exceeding drug errors and surgery on the wrong patient or body part.”
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine concluded in a study that as many as 40,500 adult patients may die annually because of misdiagnoses in hospital intensive care units (ICUs).
A study by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that the most common missed or delayed diagnoses are:
- Colorectal cancer
- Acute coronary syndrome
- Breast cancer
At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, we have seen medical malpractice claims in every one of these areas.
The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) says diagnostic error may be caused by inexperience or “shortcomings in the clinical skills or reasoning of frontline providers,” while a study published in March 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine found that most misdiagnoses are related to “process breakdowns in the patient-practitioner clinical encounter.”
For instance, the NPSF says, the inexperienced doctor may fail to get a complete history from the patient, identify the key findings on examination and formulate and weigh an appropriate differential diagnosis.
Causes of Malpractice Due to Inexperience
There are several ways a physician may commit malpractice due to inexperience or lack of training, including:
- Substitutions – Doctors often fill in for each other. This can result in a doctor performing a procedure or participating in treatment that is outside of their specialty or their experience.
- Locum tenens – Locum tenens is Latin for “place holder.” Locum tenens work consists of a physician working temporarily in a practice or a hospital that is not his or her usual place of employment. Some of these physicians are from other states. Some doctors take locum tenens positions specifically to obtain experience they do not have, and some do it because they are semi-retired. For instance, a locum tenens doctor may take shifts in an emergency room. Locum tenens doctors work in systems that are not familiar to them on top of seeing patients whose backgrounds are foreign to them. This can lead to mistakes being made.
- Handoffs – When a shift ends or a patient is moved from one area to another, such as from the ER to another ward, their care is handed over from one group of physicians and nurses. This is when communications errors often occur especially among inexperienced personnel.
- New Medical Innovations – Physicians may only have a minimal amount of training or education before they begin to utilize high tech medical devises, off-label products or experimental techniques in the treatment of a patient. Hospitals may have differing requirements as to when a physician or surgeon may begin to use a new technique without the assistance of a more experienced practitioner.
Another concern is that inexperienced medical residents work as many as 80 hours a week, which is double a normal work week. The 80-hour week may include shifts that may be as long as 16 or 24 hours. Fatigue can lead to poor decisions and careless actions.
Pursuing Compensation After Being Harmed By an Inexperienced Physician
Regardless of their experience, physicians, surgeons, nurses, technicians and other medical professionals must meet a recognized standard of care. When health care professionals fail to live up to that standard, and a patient is injured, the patient and/or their family has a right to seek compensation.
Those who have been harmed or lost a loved one because they were treated by an inexperienced doctor or other health care professional have the right to pursue a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to claim compensation for their additional medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.
Indiana law requires most medical malpractice lawsuits to be brought within two years from the date of the alleged act, omission or neglect. So, it is important to contact an experienced Indiana medical malpractice lawyer, such as Kelley J. Johnson as soon as possible if you or someone you care about has been harmed.
Contact Our Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
With over 15 years of litigation experience, Kelley J. Johnson has the knowledge and skill to hold medical professionals and heath care organizations accountable for the physical, emotional and financial harm they cause by allowing an inexperienced and improperly supervised physician, nurse or technician to treat patients.
The Indiana medical malpractice lawyer of the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson can provide a free and confidential review of your case. Call our toll-free number today or fill out our online contact form for a response within the next 24 hours.
- Diagnostic error in medicine: Analysis of 583 physician-reported errors, Archives of Internal Medicine
- Diagnostic errors in the intensive care unit: A systematic review of autopsy studies, BMJ Quality & Safety
- Reducing diagnostic errors, National Patient Safety Foundation
- Types and origins of diagnostic errors in primary care settings, JAMA Internal Medicine
- Misdiagnosis is more common than drug errors or wrong-site surgery, The Washington Post