Medical malpractice cases occur when a doctor, nurse, or other health practitioner or medical professional causes harm to a patient by providing substandard treatment. Any deviations from the accepted ethical standards of health care can result in medical malpractice. Some types of claims occur more frequently than others.
In this article, we will discuss the types of medical errors that make up the most common medical malpractice lawsuits.
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis make up a large percentage of medical malpractice claims. In fact, about a third of all filed malpractice claims are related to a missed or delayed diagnosis according to this article in Modern Healthcare.
If a doctor misdiagnoses a patient’s condition, or if they fail to diagnose a serious disease for a significant amount of time, then the patient can miss out on treatment opportunities that could prevent critical harm or even death.
A misdiagnosis can occur when a physician fails to:
- Recognize clinical signs and symptoms;
- Order proper medical testing or fails to seek out additional information; or
- Fails to refer the patient to a specialist.
The most common way to prove a medical malpractice claim that is based on misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is to compare what the treating healthcare professional did (or didn’t do) to how another competent medical provider within the same speciality and situation would have handled the same case. If a reasonably skillful and competent doctor in the same situation would not have made the diagnostic error, then the treating doctor can be held liable for the medical malpractice.
Failure to Treat
Failure to treat medical malpractice violates the care standards that a medical caregiver accepts when treating patients. This negligence is a frequent cause for malpractice claims.
Examples of failure to treat can include:
- Releasing a patient too soon from the hospital;
- Failing to provide clear instructions for post-op care;
- Failing to order the appropriate medical tests; or
- Neglecting to consider the patient’s medical history when prescribing medication or treatment.
Medication errors harm thousands of people every year. Medication errors can happen at any point in time from receiving the initial prescription to administering the drug. For example, if a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, or medication to treat a misdiagnosed condition, then the patient could suffer harm. In the hospital, the right drug could be given to the wrong patient.
However, the most common medication errors often involve incorrect dosage. The patient will either get too much or too little of a drug.
Mistakes with dosage can happen when:
- The doctor accidentally writes the wrong dosage on the prescription;
- The prescription is correct, but the nurse administers the incorrect amount; or
- The equipment used to administer the drug malfunctions, thus giving an incorrect dosage amount.
A physician or obstetrician can be negligent during or before childbirth. If negligent medical care occurs during pregnancy (which can include failing to identify confidential disabilities or ectopic pregnancy), it can cause harm to the fetus, the mother, or both. A doctor’s negligence during the childbirth, for example, failing to respond to fetal stress or misuse of forceps or vacuum extractor, can also cause injury or death to the baby and cause harm to the mother.
Medical malpractice is responsible for a number of different fetal injuries, including brain injuries (for example, cerebral palsy and seizure disorders) fractured bones, or nerve damage.
A large number of medical malpractice claims can arise from mistakes that occur in the operating room. A surgeon can be negligent during the surgery itself by accidentally puncturing internal organs, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical tools in the body. Or, the nursing staff can be negligent by administering the incorrect post-operative care, which can result in complications such as severe or lethal infection.
Errors with anesthesia can often be more harmful than surgical mistakes. Even a slight error by an anesthesiologist can result in permanent injury, brain damage, or even death. An anesthesiologist can commit medical malpractice even before any anesthesia is administered by:
- Failure to investigate a patient’s medical history for possible complications; or
- Failure to inform the patient of the risks involved if preoperative instructions are not followed correctly, like not eating for a required amount of time before surgery.
Anesthesia errors that can occur during surgery include:
- Giving too much anesthesia to a patient;
- Failing to monitor a patient’s vital signs;
- Improperly intubating patients; or
- Using faulty medical equipment.
If you or a loved one is suffering from harm or injury as a result of medical error, then you should contact a medical malpractice lawyer right away. A malpractice lawyer can help you examine and investigate the details of your case, identify the parties liable, and recover the damages for your physical and emotional injuries.
You could receive financial compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, and other losses. You can also prevent another patient being harmed by a negligent doctor, nurse, or medical facility. For more information, call Sommers Roth & Elmaleh at 416-961-1212 or contact us here.
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