The 4 Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

When you step into a hospital, your hope is to walk out better than you came. While countless successful doctor’s visits and medical procedures take place across the country each year, some patients aren’t as lucky. They come out worse off. Sometimes this down to chance and bad luck that’s beyond the healthcare provider’s control. However, there will be times when a medical problem is introduced or exacerbated due to a doctor’s action or inaction.

The 4 Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is more common than most people realize. In 2018, payouts to plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits exceeded $4 billion with the average payment slightly under $350,000. Note that a medical malpractice lawsuit isn’t synonymous with a wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can help you better understand where your situation lies. Nevertheless, here’s a look at the most common types of medical malpractice claims.

  1. Diagnosis Errors

Inaccurate diagnosis and a failure to diagnose are the most common trigger for medical malpractice lawsuits in the United States. It’s somewhat understandable because many illnesses either have obscure symptoms or share symptoms with one or more other illnesses. This can make them difficult to detect.

Without an accurate and timely diagnosis, a doctor cannot effect an appropriate remedial plan. Diagnostic mistakes endanger patients as they lead to a lack of treatment, delayed treatment, and, in the worst cases, death. They can also cause enormous financial strain on the patient thanks to the lengthy hospital stays and the expensive, yet avoidable, treatments.

  1. Prescription Errors

Prescription errors occur when the patient is given the wrong dosage, wrong medication, or isn’t fully appraised of a drug’s side effects. Doctors, drug manufacturers, and pharmacists can be liable for prescription mistakes. Prescription errors are thought to be much more widespread than the number of medical malpractice lawsuits alludes to.

Many patients will not report a prescription mistake. That’s because they are unable to link their worsening condition or a new health problem to a prescription error. When they return for a review, the doctor could simply change the prescription on the pretext of trying something different. As the patient’s condition improves, they could be grateful for healing from something that was, in fact, caused by the doctor’s initial prescription error.

  1. Birth Errors

Pregnancy is regularly marked by excitement and anticipation as the parents look forward to welcoming a new life to the world. Every parent hopes for a smooth pregnancy, seamless birth, and a healthy baby. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

In some scenarios, the doctor must make quick decisions and take rapid action if the health of the mother or baby is in danger. An injury to either one may be considered a necessary or practical risk if the situation demands drastic measures. Still, there are times doctor error may precipitate avoidable harm to mother or child.

OB-GYNs are the targets of thousands of medical malpractice claims each year. Both infants and mothers can be victims of birth errors. This can lead to everything from fetal distress and spinal injuries, to infections and postpartum hemorrhage.

  1. Surgical Errors

Surgeries are inherently invasive. They, therefore, come with certain risks to the patient’s life and wellbeing. That’s why before surgery, the patient is usually required to sign a consent confirming they are aware of the risks. That said, surgical errors can occur if the surgeon causes harm to the patient by not adhering to the required standard of care.

Surgical mistakes take numerous forms. These include incorrect anesthesia type or dose, wrong surgery site, incorrect incision, or leaving a surgical instrument or another foreign object in the patient. Surgical errors could be the result of a doctor’s actions on the operating table. Most, however, are due to mishaps in the preoperative planning phase. Surgical errors can cause infections, permanent damage, or death.


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The likelihood of medical malpractice shouldn’t keep you away from seeking medical care when you need it. Rather, being armed with malpractice knowledge beforehand should enable you to quickly initiate a claim if you ever find yourself the victim of a medical mistake.