What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse or even a dentist, fails to adequately perform his or her medical duties, which results in harm, injury or death to the patient. The occurrence is considered malpractice if there is a negligent act or omission by the medical professional, and as a result, they fail to provide the standard level of care owed to a patient. If the patient is just unsatisfied with his or her treatment, this does not imply malpractice. In order to determine medical malpractice negligence in a court of law, four elements must be proven:
1. The medical professional owed a duty to the patient.
2. A breach of such duty occurred.
3. An injury or harm was caused by the breach.
4. The injury or harm led to resulting damage.
9 Types and Examples of Medical Malpractice
Although medical malpractice lawsuits can be complex, they are fairly common in the United States. Negligence can occur in nearly any medical situation, from a regular office visit to a surgical procedure. There are many types of medical malpractice, nine of which are listed and detailed below.
Errors in Diagnosis
A misdiagnosis occurs when a patient is suffering from a particular medical condition but is inaccurately diagnosed with another condition. When a patient is misdiagnosed, his or her condition often worsens because of improper care, delayed treatment or no treatment at all.
2. Delayed Diagnosis
A delayed diagnosis occurs when a medical professional fails to identify an illness, disease or condition in a timely manner and this delay causes harm to the patient. In situations of delayed diagnosis, the medical professional may eventually discover the right diagnosis. For this reason, patients may not even realize their doctor was negligent.
3. Failure to Diagnose
In a failure to diagnose case, the medical professional unsuccessfully recognizes the complaints of the patient. Failure to diagnose cancer is a common example of this type of malpractice. For instance, if someone felt a lump in their breast and called their doctor, they would expect a prompt response, an immediate appointment(s) and appropriate tests, evaluations and labs. If their doctor did not order the appropriate tests or failed to follow-up on blood work and consequently missed the cancer in the mass, then they have failed to diagnose the condition so appropriate medical treatment could be administered. It’s also possible the doctor saw the mass and wrongfully concluded it was benign.
Also, when the initial diagnosis is wrong, the patient may receive unnecessary treatment and could be at risk for increased complications or even death. In these situations, a medical professional’s failure to properly diagnose a patient could be life-threatening, and the medical professional could be held liable in a medical malpractice suit.
Errors in Treatment
4. Failure to Treat
Negligence often occurs when the patient’s symptoms are dismissed by the medical expert as minor and undeserving of treatment. When seemingly minor conditions go untreated, the condition can develop and cause increased damage. This type of medical malpractice case could also entail the failure to provide follow-up treatment for a condition.
5. Wrongful or Harmful Treatment
In situations of wrongful or harmful treatment, the medical expert likely diagnosed a medical condition correctly, but failed to provide the right form of treatment or administered a treatment which proved to be more harmful. This type of medical negligence can be particularly damaging to the patient as their condition can become increasingly worse and can consequently require future medical treatment, which they otherwise would not require.
If you are a victim of medical malpractice, call The Law Center at 866-465-1419 or fill out the form below to be connected with a premier medical malpractice law firm and understand if your injury is eligible for a medical malpractice claim for compensation.
6. Childbirth Errors
Pregnant women and their unborn children can be victims of medical malpractice before and during childbirth. If the doctor did or failed to do something that caused harm, damage or death to the woman or her fetus, the doctor may have committed birth-related negligence. A common type of birth injury caused by negligence in childbirth is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a condition caused by insufficient oxygen reaching the brain of the infant, leading to brain damage. Cerebral palsy can occur as a result of negligence during pregnancy and/or delivery of the baby.
7. Errors During Surgery
In general, there are many medical risks associated with surgery. Surgeons are highly trained professionals, but even the most expert of surgeons can make mistakes.
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Leaving medical instruments inside the body
- Performing the wrong type of procedure
- Operating on the wrong person
- Causing damage to a nerve
8. Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesiologists are responsible for measuring the proper amount of anesthesia and monitoring the patient while he or she is undergoing a procedure. Administering too much or too little anesthesia could be harmful to the patient, and the anesthesiologist or hospital can be held liable.
Even before anesthesia is administered, the anesthesiologist must understand the patient’s medical history and any allergies to ensure it is safe for the patient to undergo anesthesia. If the anesthesiologist fails to discover a potential danger before surgery and the patient is harmed, there could be cause for medical malpractice.
9. Prescription Drug Errors
In cases involving prescription medication errors, manufacturers, pharmacies and/or pharmacists may be at fault. Medication is a major part of our healthcare system and a valuable resource to countless people. Before prescribing a drug, medical experts must consider known side effects, interactions with current medications the patient is taking and risks to the patient’s overall health. Additionally, pharmacists must dispense and distribute the proper medication with the right dosage. Failure to comply with any of these duties could result in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
According to research conducted by Hofstra University, each year, there are more than 17,000 medical malpractice lawsuits filed. Allegedly, the average medical professional can expect to be sued at least once every seven years with nurses being among those sued most often.
To learn more about medical malpractice lawsuits and the types of damages that can be awarded in a medical malpractice suit, visit our article on understanding medical malpractice.
Finding the Leading Attorneys for Medical Malpractice
It’s important to keep in mind that each state has their own set of laws regarding the various types of medical malpractice. It is therefore integral to retain the expertise of local attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice. Their knowledge of medical malpractice and its association with specific state laws will help you better understand all the processes and legalities surrounding your case.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or illness due to the negligent act or omission of your medical care provider, seek to retain the help of the leading medical malpractice lawyers near you.
The Law Center
Don’t know where to begin the search for attorneys for medical malpractice? You’re in the right place. The Law Center is committed to ensuring those who have been wrongfully injured, made ill or suffered the loss of a loved one due to abuse or negligence, have access to the legal professionals and legal and medical information they need to seek justice and obtain compensation for their pain and suffering. The attorneys among our strong national network of legal experts are ready to take on your case and hold the parties responsible for your injuries accountable. Call 866-465-1419 or fill out the form below to be connected with a top medical malpractice lawyer today.