5 Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical errors are a leading cause of death and injury in the United States, and hundreds of thousands of people pay the price. If you have been injured by a doctor or other health care provider, you might need expensive corrective surgery or other care, and you could be in considerable pain.
At our firm, we have met with countless patients who were harmed by an incompetent doctor or other medical professional. Other people reach out to us unsure of whether they have received inadequate care. Below, we highlight some of the most common types of medical malpractice and what you should look out for.
1. Diagnostic Errors
Too many doctors make errors in diagnosis. Indeed, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that diagnostic errors were the most common medical malpractice mistake, resulting in billions of dollars in medical claims. There are two types of malpractice when it comes to diagnosis:
- Missed diagnosis. You might have presented to the doctor with certain symptoms, but your doctor tells you that you are fine and to go home. In reality, you had an illness that warranted medical treatment, which you did not get because your doctor failed to diagnose you.
- Wrong diagnosis. Your doctor might tell you that you have a certain illness or disease when, in fact, you have a different one or none at all. As a result, you receive unnecessary or inadequate treatment.
Being able to properly diagnose a patient is one of the key skills doctors should have. If the doctor makes an error, you could hold him or her responsible in a malpractice lawsuit.
2. Surgical Mistakes
Many things can go wrong in the operating room. A careless doctor can end up harming you by the following:
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Performing the wrong operation on you
- Damaging nerves or organs
- Infecting you because of a failure to properly scrub before surgery
- Leaving implements in your body after surgery
Surgical errors stem from improper communication between hospital staff and carelessness when handling surgical instruments.
It’s hard to know if you have fallen victim to surgical malpractice because feeling pain is a normal consequence of surgery. However, if you don’t improve, or if you develop an infection soon after leaving the hospital, then you might have a case.
3. Birth Injuries
Both mother and child can be injured during labor and delivery. Common examples of malpractice involving mothers include:
- Uncontrolled bleeding, which leads to dangerously low blood pressure
- Elevated blood pressure
- Improperly administered medication
- Delayed c-section
- Improperly performed c-section
Shockingly, the maternal mortality rate has increased in the United States over the past few years, which is unusual for a rich, developed country like ours. A recent story in USA Today relayed stories of mothers who died shortly after delivery because doctors did not take their complaints seriously. If you feel headaches or dizziness after labor, demand medical attention and ask that your blood pressure be checked.
Children can also be injured during pregnancy and labor, suffering:
- Oxygen deprivation to the brain
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage from an aggressive delivery
Unless your child dies, it isn’t always easy to know if your baby has been injured in delivery. Development delays, for example, might take years before they are apparent.
4. Prescription Drug Errors
About 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. These drugs save lives. Unfortunately, a careless doctor or pharmacist can make a mistake:
- Prescribing the wrong medication
- Prescribing the right medication but at the wrong dosage
- Failing to check how medication will interact with other prescriptions or with allergies
If you have a violent reaction to medication, contact your doctor. Remember to read the known side effects on the side of the bottle so you can identify if you are having a negative reaction.
5. Lack of Informed Consent
Doctors must get informed consent from patients before they operate or administer other treatment. This consent should typically notify patients of the following:
- The known risks or hazards of the procedure
- Alternatives, including not providing any medical care
- The risks of alternatives
So long as a patient is alert, a doctor should obtain informed consent before operating or providing other care. If the doctor failed to, they might have committed medical malpractice.
Think You Were A Victim of Medical Malpractice? Contact Us
It can be hard to know when you have been victimized by medical malpractice. Doctors do not readily admit mistakes, and you probably need to meet with a second doctor for another opinion.
Medical malpractice cases are complicated, and you will need an attorney to help you navigate the process. Contact Dawson & Albritton today. One of our lawyers can meet with you for a free consultation.