When an individual goes in to see a health professional, they have the right to expect competent care. The average layperson relies heavily on medical professionals to accurately diagnose what is wrong with them, and to prescribe the proper medicine and treatments to help them recover. We put a lot of faith in what our doctors tell us, and we trust them to make life and death decisions on our behalf.
While our trust in health professionals is usually warranted, there are times when their negligence leads to serious and sometimes deadly errors. Medical malpractice is more common than most people realize. According to a study by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, there are more than 250,000 deaths per year in the United States that are attributable to medical errors, making it the third leading cause of death behind cancer and heart disease.
Medical malpractice can come in many forms. Here are five of the most common preventable medical errors:
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Failing to diagnose a serious health condition is a very common medical mistake. When a medical professional does not diagnose a condition that requires immediate treatment, a patient may miss out on opportunities to successfully treat the condition early on. A healthy patient could also be wrongly diagnosed, causing them to receive unnecessary treatment that costs them time and money and even does them harm.
Failure to Treat
Sometimes, the correct diagnosis is made, but the doctor or hospital fails to adequately treat the patient. This type of error is becoming more common these days with the aging population and the growing need for healthcare that accompanies this, along with hospitals and clinics becoming increasingly understaffed. When a hospital or clinic has too many patients and not enough staff, patients tend not to receive the basic standard of care they are entitled to. They are neglected, released too soon, not followed up with, and not referred to specialists when needed to properly treat their conditions.
Health professionals have been known to make numerous types of mistakes with prescription medication. Some examples include:
- Prescribing the wrong medication;
- Prescribing an incorrect dosage of the medication;
- Prescribing medication to treat a misdiagnosed condition;
- Administering an incorrect dosage of the medication to a patient;
- Administering medication to the wrong patient;
- Medical equipment malfunctions that cause a patient to receive too little or too much of a medication.
Many medical errors are made in the operating room. Examples of surgical errors include:
- Performing the wrong procedure (usually due to a misdiagnosis);
- Operating on the wrong area (e.g., operating on the left side when the operation is supposed to be done on the right side);
- Causing damage to internal organs, tissues, and nerves during surgery;
- Using surgical instruments that were not sterilized;
- Leaving surgical instruments inside the body during and/or after surgery;
- Administering an incorrect amount of anesthesia;
- Providing inadequate post-op care, resulting in complications after surgery.
Surgical errors are some of the most severe forms of medical malpractice. A mistake in the operating room can cause serious damage to a patient’s quality of life, and in many cases, it can result in death. There is a common misunderstanding that, because you sign an acknowledgment form regarding the risks of surgery, you cannot take legal action if a surgical error is made. But simply knowing that surgery is risky does not give those who are performing the operation the right to act negligently.
Numerous medical errors are made before, during, and after childbirth. These can result in a number of different fetal injuries; such as cerebral palsy and other brain injuries, shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy, fractured bones, and spinal cord injuries.
Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?
Not all medical mistakes constitute malpractice, but on the other hand, many people do not pursue legitimate medical malpractice cases because they are not sure if negligence occurred in their situation. These cases can be quite complicated, and to successfully establish malpractice, you will need to show that the doctor or hospital was not reasonably skillful or competent in treating the patient, and that this incompetence (i.e., negligence) directly resulted in the patient being harmed. This will require a thorough investigation by legal professionals who have extensive experience with these types of cases and know the right questions to ask and what critical pieces of evidence to look for to help substantiate the claim.
Contact the Seasoned Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.
If you suspect that medical negligence occurred against you or someone close to you, contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for a free consultation and case assessment. We will meet with you to thoroughly examine your case and advise you of your legal rights and options.
Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule your free consultation.