Which common healthcare mistakes are behind the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits?
A medical malpractice case can arise from any situation where a patient is harmed. Be that from a doctor, nurse, specialist, or any situation which does not provide proper healthcare treatment. Great care and caution go into making sure healthcare professionals make no mistakes and thankfully, only a small number of cases occur each year. Within that number of cases that occur each year, a few errors show up more often than all the others. One thing people are often misguided about concerning medical malpractice is that just because a mistake was made, or a patient is unhappy with the outcome of a course of treatment does not imply malpractice has occurred. To be a case of medical malpractice, a healthcare professional must have acted below the standard of care.
The most frequent medical mistakes that lead to malpractice cases are delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, childbirth injuries, medication errors, surgery errors, and anesthesia errors. These types of errors happen over and over in healthcare facilities all over the country. Often, they are preventable. When one of these accidents is caused by a provider’s negligence, they can be sued for medical malpractice.
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis Errors
Many of the malpractice suits that occur each year in the United States are a product of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. If a doctor does not correctly diagnose a condition, or if the diagnosis is not made on time, the patient loses valuable time in treatment. Perhaps missing a window that could be life-saving. The key to this type of case is to prove that another doctor would have made a different or faster diagnosis. Much like legal precedents in court cases, medical precedent is important here too.
There are several different types of medical malpractice that can be attributed to childbirth injuries, such as brain injury, several types of palsies, fractured bones, and nerve damage. Erb’s Palsy, Klumpke’s Palsy, Cerebral Palsy and other seizure disorders can all be caused by a doctor’s negligent act. They can also be caused by other factors. Something during childbirth or before could cause a birth injury. Negligent prenatal care can cause multiple issues in childbirth. Failure to diagnose ectopic pregnancies, birth defects or diseases contagious to a fetus can all be considered malpractice. Mothers can have medical conditions that threaten healthy births. If a doctor doesn’t diagnose conditions such as anemia, hypoglycemia, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes, that behavior could be negligent. Negligence during childbirth includes not anticipating large complications, not recognizing fetal distress, and failure to order cesarean births when needed. One of the most common reasons for medical malpractice during a birth is the incompetent use of vacuum extractors or forceps.
Medications errors occur more than a million times per year. They happen in any number of ways from the writing of the prescription all the way to the patient ingesting the medication. If the wrong medication is prescribed, a patient can suffer irreparable harm. Prescribing the wrong dosage can even kill a patient. Sometimes in the hospital, drugs are given to the wrong patient.
Anesthesia mistakes can be deadlier than surgery mistakes. These types of errors, however small, can result in permanent injury and brain damage. Death can also be a result. Malpractice can be committed in these cases, even before anesthesia is administered. Failure to research a patient’s medical history for medication complications, and failing to notify patients of risk involved can result in malpractice lawsuits. Too much anesthesia, unmonitored vital signs, improper intubations, and defective use of equipment are all negligent behavior subject to medical malpractice accusations.
At times, medical malpractice claims arise from errors made in the operating room. A surgeon may be negligent during the operation itself by puncturing internal organs, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical instruments in the body. The nursing staff might be negligent in administering post-op care which results in complications such as serious infection.
Many people falsely believe that because a mistake is common, they must suffer the consequences with no hope for recourse. That is not true. California law gives victims of medical malpractice a way to recoup their losses by filing a claim in court.