Incidents Of Medical Mistakes On The Rise Despite New Regulations

Exhausting work schedules for interns and first-year residents have led to tragic incidents of medical malpractice in NYC and other cities throughout the nation. Overworked and sleep-deprived, many new doctors blame their incredibly long shifts for the high incidence of medical mistakes. One such example happened in 1984, when an 18-year old girl sought medical attention in a New York City hospital. Libby Zion presented with a fever and convulsions, and was given sedative medication by the busy residents who didn’t check back in with her for several hours. By that time, her fever had reached 107 F, causing the young woman to suffer cardiac arrest. Her subsequent death and other similar reports of hospital negligence prompted new regulations restricting the working hours for both trainees and residents. The usual 24-hour shifts were reduced to a maximum of 16 hours in the hopes that rates of medical errors would decrease.

Study shows more incidents of medical errors

However, recent research published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that interns working under the revised regulations are reporting more mistakes, not fewer. The study analyzed 2,300 physicians from various national hospitals and compared intern data from both before and after the 2011 work-limit hours were put in place. “In the year before the new duty-hour rules took effect, 19.9% of the interns reported committing an error that harmed a patient, but this percentage went up to 23.3% after the new rules went into effect,” said Dr. Srijan Sen, the lead study author.

The interns, though spending less time at the hospital, were still sleep deprived and complained of continued depression. They also stated that they were now expected to complete just as much work as before the 2011 work-limit change, but are now forced to complete these duties in much less time. Another potential root of the problem stems from inconsistency in care, as interns going off duty handoff their case to another – thereby increasing the chances of miscommunication about a patient’s needs or condition. With shorter work shifts, one patient may be treated by as many as nine different interns, increasing the likelihood of some type of mistake or breakdown in communication.

Study author, Dr. Dr. Breck Nichols concluded of the findings, “If we know that timed tests result in more errors than untimed ones, we should not be surprised that giving interns less time to complete the same amount of work would increase their errors as well.”

Types of hospital negligence

Medical malpractice in NYC can have life-shattering implications, as affected individuals may have long-term complications requiring expensive therapies, surgery or rehabilitation. Common types of hospital negligence may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anesthesia mistakes
  • Birth injuries
  • Surgical errors
  • Prescription drug errors
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delays in or failure to diagnose a medical condition
  • Injuries from delayed surgery
  • Improper consent to a medical procedure or surgery

Medical malpractice in NYC and legal recourse

If you or someone you care about has been the victim of doctor error or hospital negligence in New York, The Sanders Firm is prepared to help. Our legal professionals are experts in medical malpractice litigation, and have been serving residents of Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Queens, and Staten Island for more than 40 years. To learn more about your options for pursuing legal recourse, contact our offices for a free evaluation with a New York personal injury attorney. We’ll examine the facts of your case to determine if you’re entitled to compensatory damages for related medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. Call toll-free at 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800.324.7752).