Medical malpractice is a highly specialized area of law that deals with medical errors or lapses in care that leads to harm or injury. While there are several ways in which medical malpractice occurs, some situations are far more common than others.
One out of every three patients suffers from an injury that was acquired while in the hospital, and depending on what studies you read, somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 people in America die every year from such errors – errors that, in most cases, are preventable.
Here are the most common areas of medical malpractice:
Misdiagnosis happens when a doctor fails to diagnose a medical condition accurately. If the error was something a trained physician should have been able to surmise, based on patient history, symptoms, or a combination of both, then the doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.
Attorney Scott Sandler, who has represented medical malpractice victims in Coral Gables for the past 34 years, states “A delayed diagnosis involves not telling a patient about a life-threatening disease or a serious condition. If such a delay puts the patient at risk or causes missed treatment opportunities, medical malpractice may be present.”
A medication error can happen if a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, or if a drug was prescribed based on a misdiagnosis. Examples of this are:
- The doctor orders the right medication, but the nurse administers the wrong dose.
- The doctor writes a prescription that is incorrect, either in drug or dosage.
- Medical equipment malfunctions (such as an IV pump), resulting in a wrong dosage.
If an anesthesiologist makes an error during surgery, it can cause severe and permanent injury, including brain damage, coma, and even death. Such errors could be caused by a failure to investigate a patient’s medical history, failing to provide proper pre-op instructions to the patient, giving too much or too little anesthetic to the patient, not adequately monitoring the patient’s vital signs during surgery, or improper use of equipment.
Errors during surgery could include operating on or amputating the wrong body part, leaving surgical equipment in the body, or failure to provide adequate post-operative care, leading to infection.
While there are many other areas in which medical malpractice can be cited, these are among the most common. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury as a result of medical negligence, you need to know your rights.