medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is when a medical care provider – including a doctor, dentist, nurse, laboratory technician or a hospital/medical facility – fails to meet the “standard of care” that would have been met by other healthcare providers in similar circumstances. The failure to meet the “standard of care” must directly harm the patient in order for malpractice to have occurred. A medical malpractice claim is a claim that the healthcare provider acted negligently when providing care for the injured party.

Top causes of medical malpractice

It is generally unheard of that a doctor would intentionally cause harm to their patients. Rather, medical malpractice or negligence usually happens because of carelessness or a misreading/misunderstanding of the situation; essentially human error.

Top causes of medical malpractice:

  • Miscommunication/communication error among medical team
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Prescribing wrong medication or wrong dose
  • Prescribing medication without checking patient history for allergies or other prescription drugs
  • Not warning about side effects of medication
  • Surgical error
  • Anesthesia error
  • Birth injury
  • Failure to maintain equipment
  • Failure to hire properly trained staff or adequately train staff
  • Failure to keep a sanitary environment
  • Failure to implement procedures and systems meant to reduce medical errors

Common types of medical malpractice claims

The top causes of medical malpractice injuries lead to the most common medical malpractice claims. Top causes of medical malpractice claims:

  • Surgical errors account for about one third of all medical malpractice claims made by inpatients
    • Wrong-site surgery
    • Leaving a surgical item inside body such as a sponge that causes infection
    • Wrong patient surgery
    • Organ and nerve damage
  • Anesthesia errors are another serious cause of inpatient medical malpractice claims
    • Failure to examine the patient’s medical history for clues about how the patient may react to the anesthesia
    • Failure to monitor the patient properly while under anesthesia
  • Birth injuries are a common cause of medical malpractice claims. In fact, OBGYNs are sued more for medical malpractice than any other type of physician.
    • Injuries to the child or mother
    • Wrongful pregnancy is when an attempted termination fails
    • Wrongful birth is when the parents were not informed of serious health issues in the fetus
  • The most common cause of medical malpractice claims among outpatients is misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.
    • For adults the most common errors in this category relate to cancer or heart disease. When these serious health conditions are not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner the patient can end up with a serious health decline or even preventable death.
    • For children the most common error in this category is related to meningitis. Without proper treatment, meningitis can be deadly.
  • Medication errors are a common cause of medical malpractice claims
    • Overdose from a dosage error or interaction with other drugs that leads to wrongful death
    • Dangerous side effects not communicated to patient
    • Lack of treatment leading to further illness when wrong medication is prescribed for diagnosis
    • Lack of treatment leading to further illness with the right medication is prescribed for the wrong diagnosis

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