Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other healthcare professional acts negligently while providing care to a patient, which results in harm to the patient. Medical malpractice claims often arise because the medical practitioner made a mistake by failing to adhere to a reasonable standard of care.
A list of the five most common medical malpractice errors:
- Child Birth Injuries. A number of things can go wrong when a doctor, nurse, or midwife is negligent during childbirth that can result in injuries to the baby, the mother, or both. Childbirth injuries often fall into one of two classifications:
- Negligent Prenatal Care. During pregnancy, if negligent medical care is provided to the mother, it can have case significant problems for the baby and the mother. Most often, doctors fail to identify birth defects of the child, ectopic pregnancies, or a medical condition that the mother has that could complicate the birth, such as a contagious disease, hypoglycemia, gestational diabetes, or anemia.
- Negligence During Delivery. Failure to recognize potential birth complications, such as tangled umbilical cords or conditions that cause fetal distress, can cause brain damage or cerebral palsy. Physical injuries can occur if a doctor negligently pulls on the baby with too much force, which could cause spinal cord, nerve or brain damage, bone breaks, and fractures.
- Errors During Anesthesia. An anesthesiologist can be considered negligent if he or she fails to clearly instruct a patient on the importance of following all pre-operative instructions, or fails to consider a patient’s full medical history for potential complications. Similarly, failing to administer enough anesthesia, administering too much, and/or not monitoring the patient’s vital signs can be considered medical negligence as well.
- Errors During Surgery. During an operation or surgery, many mistakes could be made that result in harm to the patient. Accidental injury to organs and tissues that are not subject to the surgery, or performing the operation on the incorrect body part are common medical malpractice claims based on surgical errors. Some medical negligence occurring during surgery may not be readily apparent post-operation and may take years to discover, as in the case of an implement or surgical tool being left in the body of a patient.
- Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis. Failing to make a timely diagnosis of a condition is a common medical malpractice claim because the patient could have been obtaining treatment if the correct diagnosis were made sooner.
- Medication Errors. Medication errors can occur at many levels of the prescription process. The doctor could make a mistake when writing a patient a prescription, making it for the wrong drug or wrong dosage. The pharmacist or pharmacy technician could also make the same mistake when filling the prescription, or may make a mistake reading the script due to a doctor’s poor handwriting. Sometimes, a patient’s medication is switched with another patient’s medication, which can cause harm if no one notices the mistake and the wrong person takes the incorrect medication.