medical malpractice examples

What Are Some Examples of Medical Malpractice?

Medical mistakes can have devastating consequences. If a healthcare provider’s negligence has harmed you or a loved one, you may have a medical malpractice case. But how do you know if your experience counts as malpractice and not just an accident?

We see the impact of medical mistakes up close. As medical malpractice attorneys, we have helped many victims get justice when a medical professional’s negligence caused them harm. While no two cases are alike, some types of malpractice happen more often than others.

In this article, we’ll discuss the most common examples of medical malpractice and the key factors that distinguish malpractice from accidents.

Common Forms of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many forms, depending on the circumstances. Here are some of the most common types of malpractice.

Surgical Errors

All surgeries carry risks, no matter if they’re big or small. But if a surgeon is negligent, even a routine procedure can go horribly wrong.

Some examples of surgical mistakes that may be seen as malpractice include:

  • Operating on the wrong body part. Shockingly enough, this “wrong site” surgery still happens a lot.
  • Leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body, such as a sponge or surgical instrument.
  • It causes damage to nerves, organs, tissues, and blood vessels.
  • Causing post-surgical infections due to poor hygiene or sterilization of tools.
  • Botching an aesthetic procedure like a facelift or breast augmentation.

No surgery is risk-free. However, surgical mistakes like these often point to a surgeon’s negligence and failure to follow proper protocols.

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

One of the most heartbreaking situations we see is when a doctor fails to diagnose a condition quickly and/or correctly, and that leads to the patient being hurt or passing away. Some examples include:

  • Failing to detect signs of cancer or other serious illnesses. A great amount of diagnosis-related malpractice cases involve this issue.
  • Misreading lab results, imaging tests, or other diagnostic findings.
  • Not ordering necessary tests or referrals.

A missed or delayed diagnosis robs the patient of the chance for early treatment when their chances may have been much better if they had this opportunity.

Childbirth Injuries

Bringing a new life into the world should be joyous, not tragic. However, medical negligence during labor and delivery can lead to heartbreaking injuries to both the mother and child. Some examples of this kind of malpractice are:

  • Failure to perform a C-section when the fetus is under distress quickly enough.
  • Not properly using forceps or vacuums during delivery, causing injury.
  • Failing to keep an eye on the fetus for signs of distress during labor.
  • Damaging nerves in the arm during a difficult delivery, causing permanent paralysis.

About 1 in 20 childbirth cases involve allegations of negligence by doctors, nurses, or other staff.

Medication Errors

With so many drugs and dosages, mistakes are bound to happen. However, some medication errors so clearly violate the standard of care that they are considered malpractice, such as:

  • Giving or prescribing the wrong type of medication for the patient’s condition.
  • Giving the incorrect dose of a medication, especially in children or the elderly.
  • Overlooking dangerous drug interactions or allergies noted in the patient’s chart.
  • A pharmacy filling a prescription with the wrong drug or incorrect dose.

Medication mistakes often lead to serious complications and are a major cause of emergency room visits each year.

Anesthesia Errors

Anytime anesthesia is used, it includes risks. But, anesthesia mishaps often hint at a larger problem with the anesthesiologist’s level of care, including:

  • Using too much anesthesia, leading to heart or lung failure.
  • Failing to properly monitor the patient’s vital signs during surgery.
  • Not taking steps to keep the patient from waking up during surgery.
  • Incorrectly putting in breathing tubes, which leads to a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Anesthesia mistakes can leave patients permanently disabled…or worse. Anesthesia always involves some risks, but these horrible mistakes often show that negligence is involved.

What Makes It Malpractice vs. Just a Mistake?

You may be wondering – what’s the difference between an accidental medical mistake and malpractice? Where is the line drawn?

Medical malpractice has to involve negligence. Negligence means the doctor or other provider failed to provide care that meets the accepted standard for their job.

Some key factors that point to negligence include:

  • The mistake involved a basic, everyday care task that the provider should have been able to do, such as washing hands before surgery or double-checking medication dosages.
  • The provider violated protocols, policies, regulations, or safety practices.
  • The provider did not have the proper training, experience, or qualifications to do the treatment or procedure.
  • The provider failed to seek specialized care when it was clearly needed.
  • There is evidence the provider was drunk, rushed, distracted, or in any other way not focused on the patient’s care when the injury happened.
  • The provider tried to hide the mistake or tried to change the records after the fact.

On the other hand, an accidental mistake or complication does not always equal negligence. Medicine is not an exact science. Doctors have to make tough judgment calls, and patients can respond differently. Complications can occur even when a provider takes reasonable safety measures.

The key is determining whether the provider’s actions fell below the accepted standard of care. If so, it likely crosses the line into negligence and malpractice.

Seeking Accountability Through Malpractice Claims

If you suspect you or someone you love has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact our team today. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers can closely investigate what went wrong and let you know what your legal options are.

The call and consultation are free. Don’t wait, as time is often limited to take legal action after medical negligence. Contact us now or schedule a consultation online. We’re here to help.

Author Bio

Tim Miley is the Founder of Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers, a West Virginia personal injury law firm he formed in 2006. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death, and other personal injury matters.

Tim received his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University and is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association. He has helped his clients win more than $10 million in personal injury verdicts and settlements and has further served the people of West Virginia by filling legislative roles in the state’s government since 2004.

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