Malpractice cases in the medical world arise when there is injury or damage caused to a patient by a medical professional. Irrespective of how careful hospitals, nurses and doctors are, or however qualified they might be; mistakes do happen, which lead to these cases. Research has shown that some types of errors are more prevalent than others.
Common Medical Errors Leading to Medical Malpractice Cases
It is important to keep in mind that a case of medical malpractice occurs only when it can be proven that the hospital, nurse or doctor has been negligent, or has taken recourse to an action intentionally, which has harmed the patient; either mentally, physically or financially. Unhappiness with the treatment or its outcome does not necessarily constitute malpractice.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), surgeons, obstetricians and gynecologists are sued most often for medical malpractice. In contrast, pediatricians and psychiatrists have the least number of medical malpractice suits against them. Read on to know medical situations where some of the most common medical malpractice errors occur.
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis make up for a rather large number of medical malpractice errors and subsequent cases. A wrong or delayed diagnosis could result in the patient missing out on treatment at the right time, which may result in some serious injury or even death.
There are a number of places where errors can happen in the case of pregnancy and childbirth. Ranging from errors in prenatal care to errors in childbirth, a lot of these errors are caused due to negligence rather than true intent. Negligent prenatal care could include a failure to diagnose a disease of the mother that could be contagious to the fetus, or failure to diagnose the medical condition of the mother with regards to preeclampsia, anemia, hypoglycemia, or gestational diabetes. Negligence during childbirth could cause harm to the mother or injure the baby. These errors generally are a failure to order a cesarean when required, or using the forceps and other equipment in an incorrect manner.
Errors here can occur at two places – initial wrong prescription and incorrect administration of medicine. However, research indicates that the largest number of errors involve the dosage of the medicine – either too much or too little. Another place where errors occur is the hospital; where a patient might be given medicines meant for someone else.
One of the most dangerous situations for errors, a mistake related to anesthesia could lead to permanent injury and even death. Failure to find out the patient’s medical history; not informing the patient about what is required and risks involved; administering too much or too little anesthesia; and not monitoring the vital signs of the patient under anesthesia are some of the errors that commonly occur.
Imagine coming out of surgery to find that the wrong body part has been operated upon or that some medical equipment has been left behind inside your body. Yes, however bizarre this sounds, such errors do take place. Add to this errors made during the post-operation care and it does become a frightening picture.
Failure to Treat
Understaffed and overworked hospitals discharging patients even before they have fully recuperated; a lack of care after operating; not bringing in a specialist when required; or just plain negligence are some of the errors that constitute a failure to treat properly.
Missed Test Results
It may sound bizarre, but there are times when after ordering a test or a series of them, the doctor either neglects to read them or does not pay heed to the diagnosis. These errors could lead to severe complications for the patient.
Although it seems that the medical practice is full of errors and mistakes, the truth is that the numbers of cases involving such errors are few – when compared to the number of cases treated overall.
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- Kathleen Michon, J. (2015). Medical Malpractice: Common Errors by Doctors and Hospitals. Retrieved October 1, 2015, from Nolo: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/medical-malpractice-common-errors-doctors-hospitals-32289.html
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- Richard G. Roberts, M. J. (2003, March). Seven Reasons Family Doctors Get Sued and How to Reduce Your Risk. Retrieved September 30, 2015, from American Academy of Family Physicians: http://www.aafp.org/fpm/2003/0300/p29.html