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When Bad Medicine is what the Doctor Ordered

Pills in a question mark pattern, internal medicine risks

Improperly conducted internal medical treatments pose an immediate and potentially lethal threat to a patient’s health. Claims filed by Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are often a combination of bad medicine, poor training, and failure to adhere to protocols.


In 2015, the Institute of Medicine estimated that nearly 12 million diagnostic errors take place every year. Based on the number of people who seek outpatient care, that means that 1 in 20 adults who seek treatment will walk away with the wrong diagnosis. It is estimated that nearly 10% of patient fatalities, and 17% of adverse events within hospitals are caused by diagnostic errors. These occur because of poor communication, lackadaisical testing procedures, and delays in properly diagnosing and treating underlying medical conditions.

Nearly 39% of all internal medical malpractice claims stem from misdiagnosing medical conditions. Over 56% of these claims show inadequate patient assessment that can delay further testing and the administration of appropriate treatment plans.

Medication Errors

The FDA estimates that nearly 7,000 people die each year due to medication errors. It is estimated that medication errors affect more than 1.5 million patients every year. These errors include prescribing the wrong medication, prescribing an excessive dosage, and failing to take into account interactions with other drugs a patient is prescribed. Mistakes with medication are among the most deadliest types of internal medicine errors. They are especially lethal in regard to insulin, anticoagulants, and sedatives. Errors with these medications can lead to heart attacks, internal hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, and loss of brain function.

Improper dosage and application of anesthesia is a significant contributor to the rates of medication errors. Errors in the administration of anesthesia can cause severe brain damage or death. These errors can include providing too much anesthetic or improperly monitoring a patient’s vital signs before, during, and following surgery. In some cases, the error may be caused by the use of defective medical equipment.

Surgical Errors

No surgery is minor and improperly conducted surgical procedures can have a devastating impact on patient health and safety. Each year, nearly 27 million surgeries are conducted in the United States. Of these, it is estimated that 1 in 100,000 will result in a “wrong-site” surgery where the surgeon will operate on the wrong arm, leg, organ, or even patient. It is further estimated that surgeons or perioperative nurses will leave sponges or other surgical tools inside a patient in 1 of every 10,000 surgeries.

These errors can have a significantly detrimental impact on patient health. At the very least, in the event of a wrong site surgery, patients will have to undergo a second surgery to correct the original health problem. This will delay their recovery time considerably, and the wrong surgery may create considerable complications for care. Should a surgical team leave tools or debris within the patient’s body, it can quickly cause sepsis and other infections that can threaten the patient’s life.

X-Ray Overdose

Americans are exposed to ionizing radiation on a regular basis. Dental x-rays, mammograms, etc. are not without risk. When an x-ray machine malfunction or patients are exposed to too many tests, the results can be lethal. Each exposure to ionizing radiation increases the possibility that the patient will develop cancer. If a patient experiences significant exposure during a single test, this cancer may develop and spread rapidly throughout the body.

Medical Device Malfunctions

In 2013, the FDA ordered recalls on 63 high-risk medical devices. This was an increase of 350% over the previous five years. Most of these devices were recalled due to defects in manufacturing that could endanger patient health and safety. Of the devices that were recalled, 29% malfunctioned during use.

Alarmingly, the high recall rate can be attributed to the FDA’s 510(k) program which allows manufacturers to market devices to physicians without adequately testing them. In fact, 71% of high-risk devices brought to market via this program and used by physicians have been recalled. These devices include knee and hip replacements, transvaginal mesh, IUD’s, and bone grafts,

When devices used in internal medicine malfunction they can cause internal bleeding, infection, and excessive wear on bone structures. These injuries can severely impact a patient’s health and quality of life. If uncorrected, they can cause permanent damage, loss of fertility, and even death.

Medical malpractice lawyers in Chicago can help patients recover damages caused from these types of bad internal medicine. Each year, millions of patients in American hospitals and outpatient care facilities receive inadequate, improper, and ineffective treatment. Patients who have suffered at the hands of their internal medicine provider should thoroughly document their treatment and any adverse events they have experienced. This information can be used to build a complete picture showing the causes and effects the treatment has had on their lives.