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Top 5 Common Causes of Medical Malpractice Claims

August 27, 2016

When seeking medical treatment, a patient’s expectation is always to receive the best care. Physicians take an oath to uphold specific ethical treatment across the board; no one expects a breach in medical care due to negligence or substandard care. However, physicians, nurses, and other medical staff make avoidable mistakes. In fact, the violation of care adds up to about 700 preventable deaths per day.

Medical malpractice claims don’t just arise from death. Any damages, injuries, or further complications from inappropriate care are potentially opportunities for a patient to make a medical malpractice claim.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or medical personnel knows the correct course of treatment, but instead consciously chose to deviate from that standard–therefore causing further, preventable harm to a patient.

Common Causes of Medical Malpractice Claims

1. Surgical Errors

Approximately 80 patients per week are victim to surgical errors—or “never events.” Most commonly, a patient will seek a medical malpractice lawsuit after experiencing any of the following:

  • Wrong body-site surgery
  • Wrong-patient surgery
  • Wrong-procedure surgery
  • Damage to surrounding nerves and/or organs
  • Leaving surgical equipment inside a patient
  • Anesthetic errors

2. Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose

A misdiagnosis is not always grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to have a strong case, a patient must have suffered injuries as a direct result of misdiagnosis. Examples include when a physician:

  • Fails to recognize a patient’s symptoms
  • Misinterprets or fails to order the correct lab tests
  • Neglects a patient’s medical history

To move forward with a misdiagnosis case, the injury from misdiagnosis must be proven to have occurred solely from the physician’s substandard care. Medicine is a science, but it isn’t always completely straightforward—so substantial, objective records and facts are crucial.

Mis-diagnostic lawsuits have surfaced from misdiagnosing:

  • Cancer
  • Strokes and heart attacks
  • Asthma
  • Staph infection

3. Prescription Medication Errors

Medication errors happen when there’s a mishap in prescribing and/or dispensing prescription medication. A study conducted by the Institute of Medicine reported that at least 1.5 million people are injured, made ill, or even killed by medication errors in the U.S each year. They occur most commonly by way of:

  • Dispensing the wrong medication
  • Prescribing incorrect dosage
  • Confusing drug labels, names, and packaging
  • Pharmacist error

4. Hospital-acquired Infections (nosocomial infections)

Nosocomial infections occur when a patient acquires an infection either in a hospital or in another medical facility. In order to classify as a nosocomial infection, the infection must not have any relation to the reason the patient is seeking treatment. Some of the most common infections are:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Infections at a surgical site
  • Primary bloodstream infections

5. Childbirth Injury

It’s important to know the difference between a birth injury and birth defect, as the two occasionally get confused. Birth defects are either due to genetics, the infant’s DNA, or some type of exposure to a harmful substance during pregnancy.

A birth injury, on the other hand, is caused by human error in which harm to an infant or mother is caused by medical negligence. This negligence could occur over the course of both postnatal and prenatal care, as well as during labor.

Roughly 28,000 infants are born with avoidable injuries each year in the United States. The most common birth injuries include:

  • Wrongful conception (e.g. conceiving despite sterilization, abortion, and other precautionary measures under medical direction)
  • Wrongful birth (e.g. physician fails to adequately detect/inform parents of the risks in conceiving or giving birth to an infant with severe congenital or genetic abnormalities)
  • Injury to mother (e.g. failure to detect and diagnose preeclampsia or failure to control excessive bleeding)
  • Injury to infant (e.g. failing to monitor infant’s oxygen both post-and-pre delivery)

Seeking an Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorney?

If you believe you or a family member has been harmed by way of medical malpractice, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham to see how we can help. Our on-staff medical professionals are here to assist in every case of medical malpractice. For a free evaluation, contact us online or by phone at 317.920.6400.

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