Medical malpractice is a tort, or civil wrongdoing, that can make a health care provider financially responsible (liable) for a patient’s related injuries. The failure of a medical professional to uphold the standards of care can take numerous forms, but some errors result in medical malpractice claims more than others.
Medical malpractice is more common than most people realize; a study by Johns Hopkins named it the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. – placing it above accidents and unintentional injuries.
Mistakes when diagnosing a patient’s injury, illness, disease or medical condition are the most commonly reported type of medical malpractice. Making an accurate and timely diagnosis is reasonably required of a physician. This means that while it is not mandatory for doctors to make perfect diagnoses 100 percent of the time, they must take appropriate measures to increase the chances of correct diagnosis. The right way to diagnose a patient involves:
- Listening to the patient’s complaints and symptoms
- Carefully reviewing the patient’s medical history
- Conducting a physical examination
- Creating a list of possible medical diagnoses
- Narrowing down the list using appropriate medical tests
- Referring the patient to a specialist, if necessary
If a doctor skips any of these steps or is negligent (fails to use reasonable care), this increases the odds of a misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose. These errors can interfere with a patient’s ability to get the medical treatment that he or she needs. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions are heart attack and stroke, Lyme disease, celiac disease, sleep apnea, and cancer.
Another common type of medical malpractice is medication errors. Medication errors can be catastrophic for a patient, as the patient may take a drug that he or she is allergic to or that has a negative interaction with other drugs that the patient is already taking. In addition to taking something that might harm the patient, he or she also does not receive the correct medication to treat his or her medical condition. Common medication errors include the wrong type of drug, the wrong dosage, incorrect medication labeling, medication dispensing errors, and mixing up two or more patients.
Many things can go wrong during pregnancy, labor and delivery. If a doctor or nurse is negligent, however, this increases the risk of serious birth injuries. If a gynecologist fails to correctly diagnose a maternal condition or infection, for example, this substandard level of patient care can cause a birth injury. Common examples include:
- Bone fractures
- Brain damage
- Brain hypoxia
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Facial paralysis
- Fetal distress
- Klumpke’s palsy
- Nerve damage
- Shoulder dystocia
- Spinal cord injuries
If your child shows any potential signs of an injury or a medical condition that may be associated with the level of care that you received during pregnancy or childbirth, your family may be entitled to financial compensation through a birth injury lawsuit.
Surgeons and their teams of assistants must properly prepare for each procedure and follow strict medical protocols during the operation. This includes double-checking that they have the right patient, are operating on the correct body part and are performing the right procedure. Errors made during surgery can result in serious injuries, including nerve damage, internal bleeding and brain injuries. Surgical errors include anesthesia mistakes, lack of informed consent, unnecessary surgical procedures, foreign objects left behind in the body cavity and poor post-operative care.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of any type of medical malpractice in Philadelphia, contact Youman & Caputo for a free case consultation. We will listen to your story and let you know if you have grounds for a claim.