In the United States, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death. Shocking, right? No one goes to the hospital thinking a doctor’s going to harm them. After all, doctors pledge to help, not harm. But everyone has to seek medical care at some point or another. So it’s good to be aware of what medical malpractice is. You should also be familiar with common malpractice examples.
Did Your Doctor Commit Malpractice?
One question people often ask is, “How do I know my doctor committed malpractice?” Here’s what medical malpractice is according to law:
- Your practitioner acted outside the “standard of care”. This means they did something (or failed to do something) that any competent physician is required to do in that situation. They didn’t carry out their responsibilities or follow protocol.
- The practitioner’s mistake harmed you in some way. For example, a nurse didn’t sterilize an instrument, and you got an infection. The infection caused permanent damage to your organs.
If you want to prove that your doctor committed malpractice, you need to provide evidence of the above. You also have to show that the doctor’s actions caused your injury. (And not an underlying condition).
Unsure whether you can sue your doctor or not? Check out these 8 malpractice examples below. Perhaps your case mirrors one of these more common examples of negligence. For specific advice, Contact Hampton & King here. We’ll review your case at no cost to you.
8 Common Malpractice Examples
Here are some of the most common malpractice examples, in no particular order.
Misdiagnosis Or Delayed Diagnosis
Misdiagnosis, as its name suggests, is when a doctor “misses” the diagnosis. For example, you rush to the hospital with all the tell-tale symptoms of a stroke, but doctors send you on your way with a pamphlet about coping with anxiety.
Without lightning-fast treatment, strokes are devastating! You could be left with permanent consequences. That’s one example of when you might sue a doctor for misdiagnosis.
These are some conditions that doctors often misdiagnosis:
- Cancer. (For example, dismissing a tumor as benign.)
- Blood clots
- Heart diseases
Misdiagnosis has a sister: delayed diagnosis. This is when doctors take too long to prescribe tests or send you to a specialist. You’re left with more questions than answers. And you might not know what’s wrong with you for a long time.
Both misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis lead to failure to treat. Without treatment, patients suffer further harm. Their odds of survival decrease. That’s why getting a second opinion when you present worrisome symptoms may be a good idea.
Imagine a nurse grabs the red capped bottle off the shelf instead of the blue one. She injects the patient, and the results are fatal. Sound too horrifying to be true? Unfortunately, it has happened before.
But there are plenty of other malpractice examples related to medication. A doctor might prescribe medication without checking a patient’s chart and seeing he’s allergic to it. A patient might receive an incorrect dosage. A physician might prescribe a drug that has a dangerous interaction with another medication the patient’s taking.
Another category of malpractice examples is surgery mistakes. For example, a doctor leaves gauze or an instrument inside a patient. Here are some other surgical errors that could constitute malpractice:
- Operating on the wrong body part.
- Not monitoring vital signs during surgery
- Damaging organs, tissues, or nerves
- Performing a procedure the wrong way, or performing an unnecessary procedure
- Failing to stop internal bleeding
- Using the wrong instruments
- Failing to sterilize surgical instruments
- Blatant abuse (such as the true case of the doctor who carved his initials into a patient’s abdomen)
Post Surgery Negligence
Malpractice can take place after surgery too. Doctors need to take special care of patients during the operating period. They should monitor them for any signs of surgical complications. Hospitals should release patients only if they are recovered and out of danger.
One of the most tragic post surgery malpractice examples is that of Joshua Brumm. He was a young snowboarder who died after a hospital discharged him following surgery.
Brumm damaged his kidney and other organs during a snowboarding accident. Surgeons had to remove his kidney. Just five days after the surgery, the hospital sent him home. He died the same day he was discharged. It turns out he still had internal bleeding–and the hospital knew about it. But they sent him home anyway. Brumm’s family sued the hospital for medical malpractice.
Sadly, not all births have happy endings. Some children are born with injuries, despite 100% healthy pregnancies. Plenty of malpractice examples take place in the delivery room, or shortly after. Here are some ways that a doctor’s negligence can lead to birth injuries:
- Failure to diagnose a mother’s infection, and it spreads to the baby.
- Delaying or failing to perform a C-section
- Medication errors
- Failing to perform a proper ultrasound
- Surgical errors
- Complications from anesthesia
- Prolonged labor
- Failing to monitor the baby or read tests the right way
- Injuring a child with forceps or vacuum
The mistakes above can lead to conditions like cerebral palsy, facial paralysis, and brachial plexus injuries. Cephalohematoma (bleeding in the head) and oxygen deprivation are also common consequences of birth negligence.
Anesthesia Mistakes – Another Malpractice Example
Anesthesia is a wonderful invention. Without it, surgeries would be impossible to endure. Unfortunately, anesthesia mistakes aren’t impossible. If an anesthesiologist applies the wrong kind or wrong amount, anesthesia can cause incredible harm.
This is why doctors should always check patient records for underlying conditions or allergies. Those can affect how a patient reacts to anesthesia. If they miss this important step and harm a patient, it may qualify as medical malpractice. Another type of anesthesia mistake is applying anesthesia to the wrong body part.
In rare cases, physicians have failed to apply anesthesia before surgery. Or the anesthesia didn’t work, causing anesthesia awareness. The patients were awake and could feel everything during the operation.
If that sounds horrifying, it’s still probably worse than you can imagine. Some patients reported not being able to move or speak to tell the surgeon to stop. They sued for damages that included emotional trauma from the ordeal.
The last of the malpractice examples on our list is infections. But being last here doesn’t mean it’s not common. In fact, it’s one of the most common mistakes that can happen in a hospital.
Why? Because hospitals, as clean as they aim to be, are full of infections. People bring them in all the time. It’s the staff’s job to keep them from spreading to others, but it happens.
When an infection spreads because a doctor or member of staff was negligent, that may be malpractice. For example, a patient receives a contaminated catheter or central line. Pathogens can enter a patient’s body during surgery as well. Patients on a ventilator may come down with pneumonia.
These infections might not be that serious–for a healthy person. But for someone whose health is already compromised, they can be devastating. They can lead to permanent injury or even death.
Has One Of These Malpractice Examples Happened To You?
Did you identify with an example on this list? Were you or a loved one harmed by a doctor’s mistake? If so, don’t hesitate to call a medical malpractice attorney. You may deserve compensation. Schedule an appointment with the competent, compassionate lawyers at Hampton & King here.