Attention: Common Medical Malpractice Errors by Doctors and Hospitals
Patients that are harmed by the treatment of any medical professional that they are trusting for proper health care fall into the category of medical malpractice. The legal terms defining medical malpractice require proof that the professional was negligent or caused harm through incompetence. Keep in mind that not all circumstances involving a mistake can be considered malpractice, nor can you sue simply because you were unhappy with the outcome of a certain treatment. Mistakes do not happen often, but it is important to understand the different types of cases to protect yourself and your family.
A Condition Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Missed treatment opportunities caused by a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnoses can lead to serious consequences, including death. These complaints take up a large percentage of claims, and it is possible to prove these errors to hold the professional liable for medical malpractice. The treatment provided by the doctor is compared with the way others with the same specialty properly handled patient cases. The case is proven valid if the treating doctor failed to provide the same level of care based on actions they did or did not take.
Injuries During Childbirth
Fetal injuries are very serious, and often lead to death or difficulties throughout the life of the patient. Improper procedures may cause brain injuries, bone fractures, damaged nerves, and other consequences that the infant does not deserve to endure.
Although these injuries can be caused by factors other than malpractice, the negligence might occur long before the actual birth. Neglecting to provide adequate care as the fetus is developing through pregnancy can cause problems for the mother or baby. The following are examples of negligent prenatal care:
- failure to diagnose a medical condition of the mother, such as preeclampsia, Rh incompatibility, hypoglycemia, anemia, or gestational diabetes
- failure to identify birth defects
- failure to identify ectopic pregnancies, or
- failure to diagnose a disease that could be contagious to the mother’s fetus (such as genital herpes or neonatal lupus).
Neglecting proper care during the actual birth of the child can also harm the mother, baby, or both. Common errors that doctors and nurses make during childbirth include:
- failure to anticipate birth complications due to the baby’s large size or because the umbilical cord got tangled
- failure to respond to signs of fetal distress
- failure to order a cesarean section when one was appropriate, or
- incompetent use of forceps or a vacuum extractor.
Errors with Medication
An average of 1.5 million individuals in the United States are harmed as a result of medication errors each year. This can happen in many different ways, starting from writing the initial prescription. An oversight can cause the doctor to prescribe a medication not intended for the patient. If the patient has been misdiagnosed, the medications prescribed to treat the incorrect condition may cause harm. Individuals that are in a hospital or treatment center can end up with the wrong medication due to a mix-up between patients.
The most common error involving medication is prescribing or giving out the wrong dosage. This typically happens for one of the following reasons:
- The doctor writes an incorrect dosage on the prescription.
- The prescription is correct, but the nurse administers the incorrect amount.
- Equipment that administers the drug malfunctions, causing a large dose of medication to be administered over a short period of time. For example, this can happen when a defibrillator has a dead battery or an intravenous pump has a dislodged valve.
Errors with Anesthesia
The anesthesiologist responsible for administering the medication to a patient in preparation for treatment has a serious responsibility. The smallest error can result in brain damage, a permanent injury, or accidental death of a patient. It is considered malpractice if the anesthesiologist does not investigate the medical history of the patient to avoid complications, or if they do not take the opportunity to provide the patient with information regarding the risks of not following preoperative instructions.
The following errors with anesthesia can occur while the patient is in surgery:
- failing to investigate the patient’s medical history for possible complications, or
- failing to inform the patient of the risks involved if preoperative instructions aren’t followed (like not eating for a certain period of time prior to surgery).
Anesthesia errors that can occur during surgery include:
- giving too much anesthesia to the patient
- failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs
- improperly intubating patients (putting a tube in the trachea to assist with breathing), or
- using defective equipment.
Mistakes During or After Surgery
Certain negligent events that happen in the operating room include operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical tools inside the body of the patient, or accidentally puncturing internal organs. The staff overseeing the patient after surgery has to administer proper care so that complications, such as infections, do not arise.
Getting Help with Your Case
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