Types of Medical Malpractice Cases

The majority of medical malpractice lawsuits are based on certain types of medical errors.

Whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed against a physician, a surgeon, a hospital, or any other health care professional or care facility, most of these cases are based on certain kinds of treatment mistakes, specifically:

  • misdiagnosis
  • negligence affecting pregnancy and childbirth
  • mistakes in prescribing or administering medication, and
  • surgical errors.

Let’s look at each one of these types of medical errors a little more closely, while keeping in mind that as with most personal injury cases, medical malpractice liability is always based on negligence—more specifically, medical negligence. That means you need to be able to show not only that a mistake was made, but that the health care provider failed to provide treatment that was in line with the medical standard of care under the circumstances. Learn more about when it's medical malpractice and when it isn't.

Misdiagnosis and Medical Malpractice

A physician's misdiagnosis of a condition is probably the leading type of medical error, and some of the most commonly-misdiagnosed diseases and conditions are infections, tumors or masses inside the body, heart attack, blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism), and heart disease.

Misdiagnosis can occur with complex conditions (like those listed above) because patients do not always have the textbook list of symptoms. But the consequences of misdiagnosis can be life-threatening, or even fatal when a physician devotes precious time and attention to the wrong condition while the real problem is allowed to go untreated for weeks or months. Learn more about medical malpractice cases based on misdiagnosis.

Medical Negligence Affecting Pregnancy and Childbirth

So much can go wrong during a pregnancy and delivery that, even in the twenty-first century, medical negligence affecting both the mother and/or child during pregnancy and childbirth (obstetric/gynecological negligence) is still fairly common.

Some leading types of medical malpractice during pregnancy and childbirth relate to:

  • excessive bleeding
  • placental abnormalities (placenta previa or placental abruption)
  • mother’s gestational diabetes
  • excessively long labor that causes injury to the mother and/or baby
  • preeclampsia
  • hemorrhage during pregnancy or labor
  • surgical negligence during cesarean delivery
  • negligence in administering anesthesia during labor or cesarean delivery
  • shoulder dystocia or other nerve injury to the baby during labor, and
  • Bell's palsy.

It's important to note that just because a pregnancy and/or delivery did not go as expected, it does not automatically follow that the obstetrician has committed malpractice.

Mistakes in Prescribing/Administering Prescription Drugs

Medical malpractice relating to medication is extremely common. Medication errors can result from administering the wrong medication, or from administering too much or too little medication. These errors can also be caused by a physician prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong amount, the pharmacy giving out the wrong medication, or the nurse or physician’s assistant administering the wrong medication or the wrong amount. If, for example, any of the health care providers in the entire medication chain (from doctor to nurse to pharmacist) misses or transposes a decimal point, the patient could be administered ten or a hundred times too much (or too little) medication. Learn more about medication errors as medical malpractice.

Surgical Errors and Medical Malpractice

Mistakes by a surgeon or anesthesiologist during surgery are not unusual. The most common surgical errors are damaging a nerve, failing to control bleeding, and leaving a foreign body (like a medical sponge) inside the patient. But surgeons have also performed the wrong operation, sometimes on the wrong part of the body or occasionally on the wrong patient entirely.

Anesthesia-related negligence usually has to do with giving the patient too much anesthesia, too little anesthesia, or the wrong type of anesthesia (some people are allergic to certain types of anesthesia). But anesthesia-related negligence can also relate to patient care during a procedure. For example, patients must be periodically moved during certain types of surgery to avoid putting too much pressure on specific parts of the body, and the anesthesiologist is often responsible for having the patient moved. If a patient is not moved properly or at the right time intervals, nerve damage and other injury can result. Learn more about surgical malpractice.

To learn more about the viability of your potential medical malpractice case, it may make sense to discuss your situation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

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