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Medical Malpractice

Most doctors and nurses are dedicated, careful professionals. We are very fortunate to have some of the best medical facilities in the world in Houston. However mistakes do happen.

Medical care is complex and often involves many different specialists and other personnel. Sometimes someone simply fails to perform his job properly. Other times an institution, such as a hospital, fails to implement proper patient care processes.

An Institute of Medicine report estimated that more than 98,000 preventable deaths occur each year because of medical negligence. That’s more than twice the number of American lives lost during the Viet Nam War. Medical malpractice kills more people each year than motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer and AIDS and its affects on patients from all walks of life. Actress Julie Andrews, comedian Dana Carvey, artist Andy Warhol and former Houston Astro pitcher J.R. Richard were all victims.

A survey conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 42% of Americans believe they have been affected, directly or indirectly, by a medical error, and 32% believe that the mistake has made a permanent impact on their health. In another survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, eight percent said that medical negligence had caused the death of a family member.

One study found that more than one in every six hospitalized patient is the victim of a medical mistake that prolongs their stay. The cost of medical malpractice is staggering. Preventable medical errors cost the nation an estimated $17 to $29 billion. These costs include both direct healthcare expenditures as well as the cost of lost productivity.

Drug errors are the most common medical mistake with an estimated four out of every 100 hospitalized patients, or 7,000 per year, experiencing some type of medication error. Twenty percent of those drug mistakes are life-threatening.

Surgical errors are also a common category of medical negligence. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) reported in 2003 that it receives between five and eight reports of “wrong surgery”—i.e. wrong patient, wrong procedure, or wrong site—each month. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates that an orthopedic surgeon’s chance of performing a wrong site surgery during a thirty-five year career is 25%. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that approximately 12,000 deaths occur each year due to unnecessary surgery.

Hartley Hampton has handled a broad spectrum of medical negligence cases involving virtually all aspects of the practice of medicine. Many cases have been referred to him by other lawyers.

His full-time registered nurse consultant, Valerie Purcell, has extensive experience in clinical care, hospital administration, risk management and academic medicine. She is a Certified Practitioner in Healthcare Quality and served as director of a quality management program for the 1,500 physician staff of a large Texas Medical Center hospital. Valerie works with first-rate medical experts to analyze the merits of each case and assists in the development of cases through trial.

Medical malpractice cases are costly and complicated, often costing upwards of $100,000 to develop through trial. We work strictly on a contingent fee basis and advance all of the investigation, development and court costs. Those expenses, plus our fee, are deducted from the ultimate recovery. If we are not successful, we absorb all costs and charge no fee.

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