Doctors and other medical professionals can make significant mistakes due to negligence. A recent study by Johns Hopkins revealed that enough people die every year due to medical mistakes to make it the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer. Figures show anywhere from 250,000 to 440,000 deaths a year are due to medical error. This statistic ranges significantly because those who classify causes of death do not classify human medical errors as a cause of death.
There are many forms of medical malpractice and some are harder to recognize than others. These errors can permanently impact patients physically, emotionally, and economically. Despite these impacts, most people do not file medical malpractice suits. Some people are unsure if negligence has occurred in their case, believe mistakes happen, or they wait too long.
Medical negligence can occur in any medical setting and no two cases are the same. Medicine is complex and the smallest mistake by a medical professional can lead to life-altering effects and in the worst cases lead to death. Below is a list of six common categories of medical negligence to help you determine if you have a medical malpractice case.
- Misdiagnosis: Diagnosis is the first and most critical step a medical professional takes when seeing a patient. Failure to correctly diagnose an illness is very common and can cause life-threatening consequences and devastating injuries. Common misdiagnoses include failure to diagnose cancer, DVT/pulmonary embolism, appendicitis and meningitis. It also includes misdiagnosis of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Malpractice occurs in this case when the medical professional fails to do what any other medical professional would do in a similar case and the patient is harmed. Misdiagnosis prevents a patient from receiving required treatment or treatment they did not need.
- Delayed Diagnosis: This is similar to misdiagnosis in that there is an incorrect diagnosis in the beginning and then eventually is correctly diagnosed. The delay in receiving the correct treatment makes the condition worse. Delayed diagnosis is malpractice when a medical professional access the patient less competently others would have. Examples are not ordering a necessary tests or failure to recognize signs of an illness on an x-ray.
- Surgical Error: The slightest mistake during a surgery can result in serious injuries such as sepsis, blood loss, organ damage, immune failure and even death. It can also result in the need for additional surgeries. Other types of surgical errors include leaving medical tools in the patient, incorrect surgery site, incorrect patient, use of non-sterile tools, and anesthesia misuse. These errors cause significant damage and effect a patient’s quality of life.
- Failure to Treat: Failure to treat occurs when a medical professional fails to provide adequate treatment. This can happen when they are treating too many patients or when the profits are more important than safety of patient. Examples of failure to treat are releasing patient too soon, failure to follow-up with patient, failure to refer a patient to a specialist. Despite providing the correct diagnosis, the medical professional fails to treat it in accordance with the acceptable standard of care for that condition.
- Birth Injuries: OBGYNS see a large portion of medical malpractice claims for mistakes made during childbirth. Childbirth can be very difficult on a newborn and when it is not handled properly, it can lead to major medical issues and even death. Examples of childbirth trauma and labor malpractice are failure to perform a c-section, induced labor complications, negligence during forced extraction, inadequate prenatal care, and deprivation of oxygen during the birth process. The mistakes made during pregnancy, labor and delivery can lead to the need of lifelong medical care and if they were preventable, medical malpractice has occurred.
- Product Liability: Medical devices are used to help save people’s lives or in make quality of life better. In some cases, they can be poorly designed or faulty in their performance. They are placed inside a patient only to then discover they are faulty in some way. Devices can break during use causing injury or they do not work properly can cause further damage by making the condition worse. If a manufacturer is aware of the potential to fail or failed to necessary testing to know, then they are liable for the damage.
The list above is just a short list of some of the most common types of medical negligence that lead to medical malpractice. For an injury to be considered medical malpractice, the act must have caused harm to the patient. Have you or a loved one been injured at the hands of a medical professional or device? Give us a call at Curtis Legal Services to determine if you have a case. We will review your injuries and the care you received for FREE. We have an experienced medical malpractice team ready to get you the compensation you deserve!