Failure to provide proper healthcare treatment by a doctor, nurse or any other medical professional can lead to medical malpractice cases. Healthcare professionals are expected to provide you with proper diagnosis, consultation and treatment. Unfortunately, there are cases where misdiagnosis, poor quality of treatment or wrong treatment, surgical negligence or any other type of error occurs, which can lead to serious consequences for the patient. It has been found that certain types of errors crop up more often than others. Listed below are some of the common medical errors that can lead to a medical malpractice suit.
However, before we proceed, a word of caution – just because a medical professional made an error or if you are unhappy with the treatment, doesn’t mean that medical malpractice occurred. The legal definition of medical malpractice states that the medical professional has been negligent and not provided the same standard of service as laid down by law, which in turn has caused inconvenience or harmed the patient. It is worth remembering that the onus to prove medical malpractice is on the patient and/or their families.
Delayed or Wrong Diagnosis
Procrastination in diagnosis can result in serious harm, even death for the patient. In order to treat the patient, the first critical step is correct and timely diagnosis. Sometimes doctors ignore or dismiss the symptoms that the patient mentions – the doctor might think that the patient simply has a headache, but it might turn out to be a brain tumor. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis account for a large percentage of medical malpractice cases.
Failure to order Routine Tests
There are standard procedures laid out, which the medical professionals need to follow. This is true for all types of illness – from a common cold to any life threatening disease. Failure to order appropriate tests often leads to an improper diagnosis. This in turn can lead to the patient receiving the wrong treatment or a delay which could have serious consequences for the patient.
Treatment does not seem to Work
You may find that even after prolonged treatment, your medical condition is not improving, or even seems to be getting worse – this may be the time to seek a second opinion. Most medical professionals hate admitting that they are wrong, and this can lead to a doctor continuing the treatment despite realizing that his diagnosis or treatment may be wrong. A second opinion could determine if the previous diagnosis/treatment was wrong.
Serious Condition Diagnosed on the Basis of a few Simple Lab Tests
Medical professionals should use a range of tools for diagnosis. Starting with listening to you as you relate your symptoms, questioning you and going over your previous medical records, blood and urine tests followed by scanning or imaging if required – these are some of the tests that are required to understand what is going on in your body. Failure to completely and thoroughly examine the patient, or relying on just a few basic diagnostic tests are signs of medical negligence. Pronouncing a serious condition where none exists will lead to the wrong treatment which may affect the patient adversely. Even if the patient does not suffer physical damage due to this wrong diagnosis/treatment, they and their families do undergo mental trauma due to this.
The other point to note with lab tests is that labs do make mistakes. If in doubt, the medical professional should question the lab about the results. Unfortunately, most medical professional do not question lab results as much as they should. If you are in doubt, ask your doctor to have the same tests analyzed by a different lab.
Are you being Over Treated?
The doctor knows best – while this may be true, if you think that the treatment recommended for your illness seems far too much than what you really require, it may help to get a second opinion. Medical treatments are not cheap and unfortunately, cases of over treatment are far too common in recent years. Invasive testing and surgical procedures should only be used when less invasive methods or basic treatments cannot suffice. Additionally, you may be a victim of additional treatments to cover up a misdiagnosis or incorrect administration of medicines. You have the right to ask your healthcare provider to explain the reason for the multiple treatment types.
It is worth remembering that despite having evidence of any medical malpractice you must have damages in order to make a claim against the medical professional. Damages can include physical damages, emotional damages, or economic damages. These damages must be the direct result of the medical negligence/malpractice.
- Ankin, H. (2015, August 13). 7 Signs You Might Be a Victim of Medical Malpractice. Retrieved December 22, 2015, from ankinlaw.com: http://ankinlaw.com/7-signs-you-might-be-a-victim-of-medical-malpractice/
- Common Signs Of Medical Malpractice. (2015). Retrieved December 22, 2015, from http://personalinjurybureau.com/: http://personalinjurybureau.com/most-common-signs-of-medical-malpractice/173/
- Five Signs of Medical Malpractice. (2015). Retrieved December 22, 2015, from law.freeadvice.com: http://law.freeadvice.com/malpractice_law/medical_malpractice/sign-of-medical-malpractice.htm
- Kathleen Michon, J. (2015). Medical Malpractice: Common Errors by Doctors and Hospitals. Retrieved December 22, 2015, from nolo.com: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/medical-malpractice-common-errors-doctors-hospitals-32289.html