It’s a hard fact to face, but a staggering 0.8-1% of all hospital patients become victims of medical malpractice each year.
As medical malpractice cases show, this can take many forms. All of them have negative effects on patient health and in some cases, long-term repercussions.
While the reasons medical malpractice occurs are many, we’re going to examine today the most common medical malpractice cases. Plus we’ll show you how you can make sure that you avoid them!
1. Wrong Drugs Prescribed
Many of us rely on the drugs we take to help us cope with both short and long-term health issues.
When these are improperly prescribed or mistakes are made at the pharmacy, the implications can be serious.
The added challenge is that as most of us are not medical professionals, it can be hard to know if you’ve been prescribed the wrong medicine. To prove liability, it must be shown that a doctor has not followed standard practice in this case.
If the error occurs in the pharmacy, rather than by the prescribing doctor, then the pharmacist would be the defendant in any resulting legal action.
2. Drugs Improperly Administered
Sometimes, the prescription is correct, but the way the drugs are administered is incorrect.
Drugs are prescribed by doctors, who are also responsible for giving dosage information to nursing staff. Nurses usually then administer the drugs. Where improper dosage information is given, or nursing staff is not properly supervised, medical malpractice can occur.
A tragic example is a Chicago resident who was given excessive amounts of the drug Pitocin during labor. This lead to her child being born with severe brain damage and requiring 24-hour care. In this case, a settlement of $12,000,000 was achieved.
3. Misdiagnosis or Late Diagnosis
Misdiagnosis and late diagnosis account for a large percentage of medical malpractice suits.
This occurs when doctors do not correctly diagnose a condition or did not diagnose your condition in good time. Again, proving negligence is always based on comparing the experience you received with the standard practice of care for this condition.
Sadly, misdiagnosis or late diagnosis often leads to late treatment or no treatment at all. Of course, we have to remember that no doctor is perfect, and many conditions do not present in exactly the same way in all patients.
Not all misdiagnoses are medical malpractice, but some are. An expert opinion will likely be needed to determine whether a malpractice suit is likely to achieve a positive outcome in court.
4. Surgical Errors
One of the most famous and feared examples of medical malpractice is an error occurring during surgery.
Most of us have a healthy fear of going under the knife, and we want to be able to rely on surgeons to get it right. Sadly, sometimes negligence leads to complications from surgery.
This can include lacerations in parts of the body that are not part of the surgery. At times, foreign objects such as gauze, clamps and even instruments have been left inside patients following surgery.
Another possible complication is that due to communication errors, surgery can take place, or at least begin, on the wrong part of the body.
All of these cause immense challenges for patients and may lead to valid medical malpractice claims.
5. Childbirth Related Malpractice
For most healthy people, childbirth is the time in their life they will interact with the medical profession the most.
There are pre-natal visits and screenings, planning for the birth, the birth itself and then the aftercare involved. Unfortunately, all of these can lead to potential malpractice.
Common examples of this type of medical malpractice include injury occurring to the child or mother due to improper standards of care being followed during birth, mistakes made during birth by the attending obstetrician or even mistakes made in pre-natal care.
Tragically, a misread ultrasound leads to the ultimate untimely death of a set of twins. One was stillborn and the other died from complications from birth at the age of 7. A payout of $10,000,000 was awarded to the family in this case.
6. Errors with Anesthetics
For most people, about the only comforting thought related to having surgery is knowing that you’ll be put to sleep for the entire procedure.
Waking up during the procedure, or not being given a high enough dose of anesthetics to mask the pain of surgery forms the basis of many medical malpractice claims.
In cases involving higher than normal doses of anesthetics, some patients have suffered brain damage and even death as a result. Improper placement of anesthesia has led to spinal problems included paralysis in other patients.
How to Avoid Suffering Medical Malpractice
The payouts in a medical malpractice suit can be hefty – but money is no substitute for your health.
Defense is your best line of attack, and it’s much better to avoid a medical malpractice situation in the first place.
Here are a few keys to getting the best treatment possible:
- Put yourself in the doctor’s shoes – what information can you share make his/her job easier?
- Ask questions. It’s your body and you have a right to ask questions at every step of the way. A good doctor will take the time to listen and provide you with the information you need.
- Get everything you’ve agreed to in writing – before any procedures are undertaken.
- Communicate, communicate and communicate some more – it is usually communication breakdowns that lead to malpractice suits.
The Bottom Line: The Most Common Medical Malpractice Cases
The good news is, the vast majority of trips to the doctor’s office or hospital result in a high standard of care being delivered. But if your experience has been less than satisfactory, these common medical malpractice cases may have helped you to see whether you have a case.
Even if there isn’t an example that exactly matches what you’ve been through, it’s good to speak to a lawyer about your situation. The team at Trapp & Geller are here to help.
Click here for more information and to set up a meeting today.