What Are the Five Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

What is Medical Malpractice?

When you trust your health to a medical professional, you believe that they will provide you with the best possible care, according to their skills. While most doctors, nurses, and other medical staff members strive to live up to this high standard, there are times they fall short. Medical malpractice occurs when a professional involved in your health care commits an act of medical negligence that directly causes you injury. Medical negligence is a deviation from the accepted standard of care that would be expected from another individual with the same experience and training. Not every act of medical negligence necessarily leads to injury, but when it does, the consequences can be life-altering for the victims.

At Villari, Giannone & Matteo P.C., our medical malpractice lawyers have years of experience helping patients seek compensation for the harm caused by medical errors. While there are various ways for medical malpractice to occur, five common types account for the majority of injuries we see. Remaining aware of these common errors can help you advocate for proper care for yourself and your loved ones as you navigate the health system and recognize when a serious mistake has been made.

Incorrect Diagnosis or a Failure to Diagnose

Doctors receive years of training to ensure they can quickly and accurately diagnose serious medical conditions so the patient can get the care they need. If a doctor fails to recognize a patient’s symptoms or does not perform adequate follow-up to rule out severe illnesses, major health issues such as cancer, heart attacks, or systemic diseases can go undiagnosed and untreated. When this occurs, patients may suffer more pain, a loss of quality of life, or even premature death.

Errors in diagnosis that can lead to malpractice suits include:

  • Failure to order necessary lab tests.
  • Not communicating test results or explanations to the patient or other members of the medical staff.
  • Not providing a referral to a specialist who could diagnose the illness.
  • Dismissing a patient’s symptoms.
  • Ignoring patterns of symptoms that could indicate an underlying issue.

Medication Errors

Prescription drugs are used in the treatment of many ailments, from viral infections to cancer. While they are undoubtedly powerful tools for improving health, they also have the potential to cause significant harm if administered improperly. Pharmacists, nurses, and prescribing doctors all play a role in ensuring patients are as safe as possible while taking prescriptions. Common medication mistakes include:

  • Failing to check for allergies or dangerous drug interactions before prescribing or administering medication.
  • Providing an incorrect dosage.
  • Not warning the patient of potential adverse reactions.
  • Failing to inform the patient of special instructions for using the medication properly, such as avoiding alcohol or specific supplements.
  • Giving the wrong medication for the condition.
  • Not monitoring patients for addictive behaviors or drug abuse.

Surgical Errors

Recent advancements in surgical procedures have made it safer to have an operation today than at any other time in history. However, surgeries are still complicated procedures that rely on close communication between several members of your care team. Surgeons, anesthetists, and the assisting medical professionals are highly trained individuals who follow strict protocols.

However, they are still human and can make mistakes that cause harm or even death, such as:

  • Operating on the wrong body part or patient.
  • Errors in anesthesia administration.
  • Leaving foreign objects in the body.
  • Performing incorrect or unnecessary operations.
  • Giving inadequate care during or after the surgery leading to complications, infections, or excessive scarring.

Birth Injuries

The birth of a child should be an exciting and happy time for a family, but there are risks involved that your medical team must properly manage. Sadly, errors during pregnancy, delivery, or postpartum can have significant, lasting impacts on the mother or baby. Medical malpractice can result from these and other mistakes during the birthing process:

  • Poor prenatal and postpartum care, including mental health care, leading to adverse outcomes.
  • Infections due to unsanitary conditions.
  • Not performing a c-section when necessary.
  • Failing to adequately inform parents of severe prenatal health conditions.
  • Fetal injury from instruments such as forceps.

Emergency Room Negligence

Although emergency room doctors must make rapid medical decisions for their patients, they still have a responsibility to provide the best possible medical care under the circumstances. Sadly, emergency room personnel often suffer from overwork, fatigue, stress, and other issues that can lead to mistakes and oversights that can negatively impact patients.

While emergency rooms are responsible for saving the lives of many patients, they can also be set for many harmful errors by staff, including:

  • Failing to make a plan for follow-up care.
  • Forgetting to order needed tests.
  • Sending a patient home too soon or failing to admit them to the hospital when needed.
  • Not consulting a patient’s medical history to look for allergies, drug interactions, or indicators of illness.
  • Not obtaining informed consent.
  • Failing to provide timely treatment for a serious injury or condition.
  • Misdiagnosing the patient.

What Damages May Be Available to Victims of Medical Malpractice?

If you have been harmed by medical negligence while receiving care, a medical malpractice lawsuit can allow you to seek the justice and compensation you deserve. You may be able to recover damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. However, it is vital to begin the legal process as soon as possible after discovering the error because you typically only have two years from the date of the injury to bring your medical malpractice case to court in Pennsylvania. To learn more about your legal rights, contact Villari, Giannone & Matteo P.C. today for a free case evaluation: 610-609-8477.

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