Medical malpractice occurs when the negligence of a healthcare provider causes an injury to a patient or their death. Medical negligence can take many forms, but here are the seven most common types of medical malpractice claims.
1. Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose
A doctor may misdiagnose or fail to diagnose a condition after seeing a patient who has reported symptoms. As a result, a patient may receive unnecessary treatment or go without proper treatment, leading to severe injuries or death.
2. Medication Errors
The wrong medication may be prescribed by a physician or administered by a pharmacy, or the wrong dosage of the right medication. As an example, a physician may prescribe a medication that the patient has a known allergy to, which can be viewed in their medical history.
3. Surgical Errors
Surgical error claims can be the result of:
- Botched procedures: A botched surgery can lead to other injuries such as internal bleeding or nerve damage.
- Foreign objects left in the body post-procedure: Including towels, instruments, and other types of items.
- Failure to care for or monitor patients post-recovery.
- Overworked or drowsy surgeons.
- Procedures performed on the wrong area or person.
4. Anesthesia Errors
The basis for a potential medical malpractice claim can occur when an anesthesiologist fails to intubate a patient properly, fails to regulate the patient’s breathing in surgery, or does not give a patient critical preoperative instructions (e.g., don’t eat or drink for X amount of hours).
5. Childbirth Injuries
This type of error can impact the mother, infant, or both during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or after the baby is born. Some of the most common types of obstetric medical errors include:
- Negligent prenatal care
- Failure to diagnose or detect a condition that may place an infant or mother at risk
- Failure to recognize that the fetus or mother is in distress
- Failure to monitor and timely respond to complications that arise during labor and delivery
- Negligent use of vacuum extraction or forceps
- Delay in performing a C-section when it is medically necessary
- Improper administration of Pitocin, which is used to induce or speed up labor
- Negligent neonatal care
6. Lack of Informed Consent
It is illegal for a physician to perform procedures on patients without their informed consent unless it is an emergency. If a doctor fails to obtain informed consent or gets it through force, trickery, or coercion, you have the grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit if you were injured by the procedure or treatment.
7. Hospital Infections
Hospital infections often occur because surgeons, nurses, or doctors fail to provide a sufficiently clean environment for their patients. For instance, hospital infections can be caused by the failure to:
- Wash hands
- Clean and disinfect sinks
- Clean and sterilize surgical instruments
- Use double-gloving during surgery
- Follow special handling and disposal precautions for items such as scalpels, needles, lab waste, and blood.
The most commonly named defendants in medical malpractice lawsuits are physicians, but many other healthcare providers can also cause these injuries. For example, nurses, pharmacy staff, radiologists, surgeons, pharmaceutical companies, hospital administrators, etc.