The 5 Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

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Providence Medical Malpractice Attorney Louis W. Grande lays out the 5 most common types of medical malpractice as well as the best step to take if you feel you have been a victim.

If you are like most Americans, you turn to doctors, nurses, and other medical providers for healthcare on a regular basis. And while most procedures and treatments unfold smoothly, a small percentage of medical visits results in illness, injury, or even death. Below are the five most common types of medical malpractice and the best step to take if you feel you have been the victim of medical malpractice.

1) Incorrect Diagnoses

“It is not just inconvenient to have a wrong or delayed diagnosis. For many patients, misdiagnosis causes severe harm and expense, and in the worst cases, death.” – David Newman-Toker, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality’s Center for Diagnostic Excellence

The Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine recently reported that over one-third of malpractice cases involving serious patient harm are the result of misdiagnosis by a healthcare provider. Virtually any physical or mental health condition can be misdiagnosed but misdiagnosing the following three conditions account for nearly 75% of all serious harm to patients:

  • Cancers
  • Infections
  • Vascular events

 

2) Failure to Provide Treatment

Failure to provide treatment to a patient is a serious form of medical malpractice that can produce deadly consequences. Here are some reasons why patients do not receive the treatment they need:

  • An overbooked schedule: Some doctors try to squeeze too many patients into their schedules, limiting the care and treatment patients receive.
  • Dismissal of the patient’s health complaints or claims: Sometimes doctors dismiss patients’ complaints as frivolous or overstated.
  • Refusal to conduct the proper diagnostic tests: Failure to authorize or run needed testing can result in delayed or incorrect diagnoses.

 

3) Surgical Errors

Of all the types of medical malpractice, surgical errors often seem the most shocking. After all, surgery is an invasive procedure that calls for extra precautions and preparation. But sometimes, surgeons or their surgical teams make some life-altering mistakes. Here are some of the most common types of surgical errors:

  • Operating on the wrong patient. While this type of medical malpractice is not overly common, the results can be devastating.
  • Removing the incorrect organ. For instance, a surgeon may mistakenly remove a patient’s healthy lung instead of the diseased lung.
  • Leaving surgical instruments in a patient’s body cavity. Thousands of procedures end with instruments left inside the patient’s body.
  • Anesthesia-related errors. The anesthesiologist may administer too little or too much anesthetic agent to a patient during surgery.

 

4) Prescription Drug Errors

Doctors and nurse practitioners sometimes prescribe incorrect medication to patients. They may also prescribe drugs to which a patient is allergic, or may prescribe multiple drugs that can be potentially harmful when taken together. Finally, the prescriber may administer the incorrect medication dosage. This error can cause patients to overdose if too much of a drug is ingested, or fail to improve if the prescribed dosage is too small.

5) Medical Device Failure

“In the U.S., FDA regulates the sale of medical device products. Before a medical device can be legally sold in the U.S., the person or company that wants to sell the device must seek approval from the FDA. To gain approval, they must present evidence that the device is reasonably safe and effective for a particular use.” – U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Sometimes patient injuries arise due to medical device failure or poorly maintained medical equipment. Ultimately, healthcare providers are responsible for buying medical devices that are approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here are some examples of situations that can lead to a medical malpractice case:

  • Poor device maintenance: Failure to change batteries, oxygen sensors, filters, or circuits can cause a device to stop operating properly.
  • Defective components: In this case, a manufacturer has failed to ensure that a device is free of defects prior to selling it to a doctor or hospital.
  • Use of unauthorized devices: Using a device that lacks the proper industry approvals increases the risk of medical device failure.

 

What should you do if you have experienced this type of medical malpractice?

If you feel your health has suffered due to medical malpractice, the best thing to do is to reach out to an experienced lawyer. A skilled attorney will listen to your story and determine whether you have a viable medical malpractice case. If malpractice has occurred, a lawyer will organize your case and help you receive financial compensation related to any injuries or health problems you suffered at the hands of your medical provider.

An experienced malpractice attorney can help you in other ways as well. In addition to guiding you through the overwhelming medical malpractice landscape, a lawyer will negotiate with insurance companies and opposing attorneys on your behalf. Most importantly, a malpractice lawyer will fight for your rights from the minute you enlist their services until the minute you receive the compensation you deserve.

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