Mistakes happen. However, in the medical field, mistakes can be costly and even potentially deadly. Medical malpractice is a gravely serious issue, and it is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. While sorting your way through whatever damages the negligence of your healthcare providers may have caused, it can be difficult to discern what qualifies as medical malpractice and what does not.
We’re here to help better understand this problem and what to look out for with some examples of medical malpractice that occur most frequently among claims.
Common Examples of Medical Malpractice
The following are instances of medical malpractice that may happen to you. Whether it’s from an improper prescription or a mistake made in surgery, these circumstances are common cases of medical malpractice that you can reference when deciding if you should make a claim.
As much as we advise you to trust and consult your healthcare providers, no doctor is correct 100% of the time. Although mistakes happen, healthcare providers must follow standards of care, and inaccurate diagnoses can have deadly consequences.
A Johns Hopkins study shows that 1 in 3 misdiagnoses lead to serious injury or death, and unfortunately, being misdiagnosed is not an uncommon occurrence. In the US, 12 million adults receive misdiagnoses every year.
However, a misdiagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean it’s grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Here are some criteria to help you find out if your misdiagnosis qualifies for a medical malpractice claim:
- The doctor provided an improper diagnosis, and if corrected, the mistake was not corrected within a reasonable period of time.
- The misdiagnosis directly resulted in damages, be it increased medical costs, adverse health risks from medical treatment, loss of opportunity to properly address the actual medical issue, etc.
- The doctor did not provide a secondhand opinion on the diagnosis, or if you sought a secondhand opinion and they provided a correct diagnosis.
Example: The doctor provided you with misdiagnosis for a less serious injury. The doctor did not consult with other healthcare providers to confirm his diagnosis. After realizing that treatment for the original diagnosis is not working, the doctor tests you again to find that his original diagnosis was wrong & that your injuries have progressed.
In addition to misdiagnosis, delayed diagnoses can also be an example of medical malpractice. If your doctor fails to diagnose you in a timely manner and it leads to damages, you may have a viable malpractice claim.
For a delayed diagnosis to be considered malpractice, the doctor must have provided less treatment than what would be considered standard among other doctors.
Studies show that about 5 percent of patients who seek outpatient care annually receive a delayed diagnosis.
Example: The doctor may have neglected to administer a test that would have normally been given. It must be proven that you would have been better off if you had received treatment sooner. It can be tricky to identify, so when in doubt, contact us for any questions you have.
Surgical errors are highly feared and possibly the first thing one thinks of when talking about medical malpractice, and it’s understandable why.
Surgeries, no matter how small, carry some risk of injury or death. While people who undergo surgeries are typically made aware of these risks, you may be eligible to sue for mistakes made that cause personal injury.
Such mistakes may include:
- Damaging organs
- Damaging nerves
- Operating on the wrong body part or patient
- Performing the wrong procedure
- Failing to take the measures necessary to prevent infection
- Using nonsterile surgical instruments
- Failure to control bleeding
- Failure to adequately monitor vital signs during surgery
- Leaving medical equipment inside a patient
- Unsafe procedures during surgery that result in serious harm to the patient
- Improper care before or after surgery
More than 4,000 preventable surgical errors occur every year, according to researchers.
A lot can go wrong in the process of prescribing medication to a patient. Any one of the following examples may be grounds to sue from medication errors:
- The wrong drug is prescribed
- The doctor fails to properly check the patient’s medical history before prescribing
- The pharmacist makes an error, such as preparing the wrong drug for the patient
- The doctor may over/underprescribe the dosage
- The pharmacist may over/under-apply dosage
- The doctor incorrectly prescribes the duration or frequency of usage
More than 100,000 medication errors occur every year, according to the FDA.
In addition to the examples above, the medication itself may be at fault. The pharmaceutical company or manufacturer of the drug may be liable if their product causes undisclosed harm to the consumer . These types of drugs may constitute legal action in the form of a bad drug lawsuit.
A subcategory of surgical error is anesthesia errors, which is one of the most common forms of surgical error. Anesthesia error can result in very serious injury and even death – studies show that 1 in 200,000-300,000 patients die from anesthesia errors. For this reason, anesthesia is almost always administered by a trained anesthesiologist and is handled with utmost care. This, of course, does not mean that they will always do the correct procedure.
Anesthesia errors may occur at any point in the process of reviewing, administering, and monitoring anesthesia dosage by the anesthesiologist.
Example: The anesthesiologist recommends a dosage of a anesthesia for a patient, but fails to review all of the other drugs being administered for the surgery. One of the drugs used in surgery has a reaction with the anesthesia, resulting in the patient death.
Preparing for a new addition to the family is a time filled with joy, anticipation, and anxiety. An infant is delicate and in need of great attention and care. That said, it is all the more catastrophic when medical negligence impacts your baby for the rest of their life.
While it’s a scenario in one’s worst nightmares, 6 to 8 out of every 1000 people unfortunately have to endure this reality. If any errors occur as a result of an oversight by the healthcare providers, such as errors during the birthing procedure or direct injury to the baby or mother, you may be able to make a claim for medical malpractice. Some common mistakes resulting in birth injuries in include:
- Errors during a Cesarian section
- Placental disruption
- Injury to the baby or mother that is substandard and abnormal among medical practitioners
- Facial paralysis
- Forceps mistakes
- Cerebral palsy
About 28,000 birth injuries are reported each year, according to the CDC.
Hospitals typically have a lot of traffic within them. Lots of traffic means lots of pathogens, and as people come and go, both sick and healthy, improper cleaning procedures can result in you contracting an infection.
Hospital-acquired infections must meet the following criteria:
- Contracted within 48 hours of hospital admission
- Within 72 hours of hospital discharge
- Within one month following a surgical procedure
Among these hospital-acquired infections includes 4 common types of infection:
- Catheter-associated urinary tract infections, such as the Penumbra Jet 7 Catheter.
- Surgical site infections, such as infections from surgical staples.
- Central line-associated bloodstream infections, such as infections from the Bard PowerPort device.
- Medical device infections, such as the Stockert 3T Heater-Cooler device infections.
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia and breathing device injuries, such as infections from the Philips CPAP device.
CDC outline common infections in hospitals, if you are interested in learning about more common hospital infections.
What To Do If You Are Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you suffer injuries resulting from the negligent actions of your healthcare provider, there are certain steps that your can take to minimize the damages that you incur.
First, you should seek medical treatment from another healthcare provider to mitigate the extent of the injuries that you have incurred. You may even consider receiving a diagnosis from more than one doctor to ensure that your new diagnosis is correct.
You should also collect evidence of the injuries resulting from malpractice. Some forms of evidence of malpractice include:
- Medical documents from first treating physician & any subsequent treating physicians
- Medical bills
- Written or recorded personal testimony
- Witness testimony
- Photos or videos of injuries as they progress
Once you have mitigated your injuries, you should consider reaching out to a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your legal options, including potentially filing a lawsuit. If you are wondering, “do I even need to hire an attorney?“, you should start by requesting a free consultation with a lawyer to determine whether legal action is the right move for you.