How common is medical malpractice in New York City?
One indicator, for starters, is the amount that the city has paid out for injuries suffered at its public hospitals. That number reached $134 million this year, involving 270 cases.
Cumulatively, over the last four years, the tab stands at over $500 million.
The injuries that the city has paid out for include birth injuries, failure to diagnose a brain hemorrhage, and many other medical mistakes.
In a birth injury case that dates to June 2008, the mother-to-be was given drugs to induce labor – but then went unseen by doctors for nearly three hours. This was a case of medical malpractice and the ordeal went on for more than nine more hours. Rather than perform a C-section, doctors kept the woman pushing. By the time the baby was born, he was having seizures. He was also unable to breathe on his own.
When a CT scan was eventually performed, it revealed bleeding in the brain and a skull fracture. The boy survived, but suffered permanent disabilities, including trouble with both speaking and walking.
The city’s Health and Hospitals Corp. says that payments to people injured by medical malpractice have actually gone down since reaching a peak in 2003. But a spokesperson acknowledged that, “[w]hen an injury occurs, there is no doubt that it is devastating to the patient and their family.”
This fiscal year’s payout figure of $134 million is down only slightly from last year’s total of $135 million. Clearly New York medical providers still have much to do to reduce the number of errors that harm patients.
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Source: “Medical malpractice lawsuits have cost city $134 million this year and range from babies crushed to crucial misdiagnoses,” Daily News, Reuven Blau, 8-27-12
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