Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Doctors, nurses, dentists, and other healthcare professionals go through years of training before they are allowed to treat patients. But despite all of this training, healthcare professionals can still make mistakes. If a healthcare professional makes a negligent error when treating a patient, this is referred to as medical malpractice. Sadly, medical malpractice can lead to serious injuries that are often fatal. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that medical negligence is the third leading cause of death, right behind heart disease and cancer.

There are many different types of errors that healthcare professionals can make when working with a patient. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of medical malpractice:

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis, which is sometimes referred to as delayed diagnosis, is the most common type of medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a patient’s condition. Doctors make this mistake when they don’t spend enough time with the patient, fail to order the appropriate tests, misread test results, forget to review the patient’s medical history, or don’t listen when the patient describes their symptoms.

Misdiagnosis can seriously affect a patient’s health. For example, let’s say a doctor misreads a patient’s test results and tells the patient their tumor is benign when it is actually cancerous. The patient will not start to treat the cancerous tumor since they are under the impression that it is benign. By the time another doctor catches this error, the cancer may have spread to other areas in the patient’s body.

Medication Errors

Patients can also be harmed by medication errors. A medication error can be made by a doctor, nurse, or even a pharmacist. Some medication errors occur when a doctor accidentally prescribes the wrong type or amount of medication. In other cases, the doctor prescribes the right medication, but the nurse administers the wrong type or amount of it.

Medical professionals can also be held liable when they prescribe or administer a medication that could have a negative interaction with another medication the patient is taking. Drug interactions can be dangerous, which is why doctors need to be incredibly careful when reviewing patients’ charts and prescribing medications.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesiologists are responsible for administering anesthesia to patients who are about to undergo surgery. If an error occurs during the administration of anesthesia, the patient can suffer immensely. Some examples of anesthesia errors include:

  • Giving the patient too much or too little before or during an operation
  • Not monitoring the patient’s condition after the anesthesia has been administered
  • Failing to discuss preoperative procedures with the patient prior to the surgery
  • Not looking into the patient’s medical history prior to the surgery to determine if the patient will have a bad reaction to anesthesia
  • Not recognizing that the patient is experiencing complications from anesthesia

Anesthesia errors are not as nearly as common as misdiagnosis errors. But, even a small anesthesia error could lead to serious life-threatening injuries.

Pregnancy and Childbirth Errors

The healthcare providers that treat pregnant mothers are responsible for caring for the lives of both the mother and the unborn baby. Healthcare providers should closely monitor the mother’s condition throughout her pregnancy and identify any conditions that could harm the baby, such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. If these conditions are not diagnosed and the mother or baby is injured as a result, the doctor could be liable for medical malpractice.

Most medical malpractice cases that fall under this category are related to injuries that occur during childbirth. As soon as the mother goes into labor, the doctor and team of nurses need to closely monitor her condition. Healthcare providers should recognize and immediately respond to any signs of distress shown by the mother or baby. If immediate action is not taken, both the mother and baby could be seriously injured. Sadly, babies can quickly lose oxygen and suffer permanent brain damage as a result of a healthcare provider’s inaction.

Doctors can also be held liable if they make mistakes when pulling the baby out of the birth canal. If a doctor forcefully grabs the baby or uses a tool incorrectly, the baby could suffer temporary or permanent injuries.

Surgical Errors

Another common type of medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional is operating on a patient. There are many different types of surgical errors. A surgeon could accidentally perform the wrong type of surgery, perform the surgery on the wrong person, or perform the surgery on the wrong part of the person’s body. Sometimes, surgeons accidentally leave tools inside the patient after the surgery is over. Although this is not as common as other errors, it is one of the more dangerous mistakes that a surgeon can make.

Another type of surgical error occurs when the surgeon’s nurses and assistants fail to properly prepare for the surgery. These healthcare professionals are responsible for sanitizing all of the surgeon’s equipment prior to the surgery. If an unsanitized tool is used to perform surgery, the patient could develop a serious infection.

It’s important to note that not every problem that arises during surgery is medical malpractice. Every surgery carries a unique set of risks that doctors should tell their patients about prior to the operation. A problem that is not one of these known risks, but rather is a preventable error or mistake, is medical malpractice.

Have you been injured as a result of a negligent healthcare provider? If so, contact Carpenter & Zuckerman as soon as possible to discuss your case. Our team of personal injury attorneys has years of experience representing clients in medical malpractice cases. Let us fight for the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.


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