Several times each day in the U.S., innocent people are injured due to the negligence or carelessness of a healthcare provider. Medical malpractice costs the United States more than $3.6 billion every year. The worst malpractice incidents lead to serious injuries or rapid declines in health, permanent disability, and sometimes even death. Medical malpractice often involves more persons than just the doctors. When someone employed by a hospital is responsible for medicinal malpractice, typically the hospital itself rather than the individual will be named as a defendant in a medical malpractice claim.
Medical malpractice happens when a patient is injured by a physician or by another healthcare professional who fails to provide the accepted standard of care, that is, the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional, with a similar background and in the same medicinal community, would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged wrongdoing. In Southern California, an experienced Pasadena medical malpractice attorney can help someone determine if a specific incident does or does not constitute medical malpractice.
Of course, simply because a doctor or nurse makes a mistake, or simply because a patient is unhappy with the outcome of a medical treatment or procedure, it doesn’t necessarily mean that medical malpractice has taken place. To satisfy the legal definition of medicinal malpractice, there must be negligence on the part of a healthcare provider, and that negligence must be the direct cause of the patient’s injury or damage. What are the most common kinds of medical malpractice that take place in hospitals in the United States?
1. DELAYED DIAGNOSIS OR MISDIAGNOSIS
The overwhelming majority of medicinal malpractice incidents are linked to a misdiagnosis or to the failure to diagnose a medical condition. In fact, every year, about twelve million adults in this nation are misdiagnosed in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and medical clinics. Failing to diagnose a serious medical condition or misdiagnosing a severe illness and recommending the wrong treatment can cause even more harm to an already-sick patient and can be the basis for a medicinal malpractice claim. Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis probably are responsible for the largest percentage of medical wrongdoing claims.
When a doctor misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose a serious medical condition, the patient misses out on opportunities that could have improved or healed his or her condition. In order to prove a medical malpractice claim based on a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose, a medicinal malpractice attorney must contrast what the physician did (or failed to do) with what a reasonably competent and skillful physician in the same specialty would have done in the same situation. If a reasonably competent and skillful doctor in the same situation would not have made the diagnostic error, the medical malpractice claim is likely to prevail.
2. BIRTH INJURIES
Birth injuries including cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and Klumpke’s palsy can be caused by medical malpractice. Although birth injuries may happen for a variety of reasons, the top cause of birth injuries is a lack of oxygen. Yes, a child may be born suffering oxygen deprivation, but when healthcare providers do not instantly recognize oxygen deprivation and take action, medicinal wrongdoing – and injury or death – can happen. Cerebral palsy or brachial plexus palsy are often a consequence of oxygen deprivation during birth. Other birth injuries include fractured or broken bones and temporary paralysis. Common medical errors during childbirth include:
- the failure to react to indications of fetal distress
- the failure to order a cesarean section when appropriate
- the incompetent use of forceps
- the failure to anticipate complications caused by a baby’s size or a tangled umbilical cord
Birth injuries can also be caused by a doctor’s negligence long before the delivery. If negligent treatment is offered throughout the pregnancy, it could harm the child, the mother, or both. Some examples of negligent prenatal care include the physician or obstetrician’s failure to diagnose a mother’s condition such as such as hypoglycemia, preeclampsia, anemia, Rh incompatibility, or gestational diabetes. Other common medicinal errors during pregnancy include:
- the failure to identify birth defects
- the failure to identify ectopic pregnancies
- the failure to diagnose a disease such as genital herpes or neonatal lupus that could be contagious to the child
3. MEDICATION ERRORS
Every year, about 1.5 million people in the United States are affected by medication errors. A patient might be injured if a doctor recommends the wrong prescription. If a medicinal condition has been originally misdiagnosed, a prescription based on that misdiagnosis could conceivably be dangerous. In a hectic hospital scenario, the right medication might be administered to the wrong patient. However, the most common medication mistakes involve dosages – too much or too little.
4. SURGICAL ERRORS
Surgical errors are actually quite rare, although these are the medicinal malpractice cases that make the headlines. If a physician removes or operates on the wrong organ or body part, punctures an internal organ, or leaves a surgical instrument inside the body, it’s usually a clear-cut case of medical wrongdoing. A nursing staff’s negligence in providing post-operative care – allowing for complications like a serious infection, for example – might also be medicinal malpractice.
5. ANESTHESIA ERRORS
Anesthesia mistakes can often be more dangerous than surgical errors. An anesthesiologist can commit medical malpractice by giving a patient too much anesthesia, failing to monitor a patient’s vital signs, improperly inserting a tube in the trachea to assist with breathing, or by using equipment that is defective. The tiniest error by an anesthesiologist can cause permanent injury, brain damage, and in some cases, death.
WHERE CAN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE VICTIMS TURN?
Medical malpractice cases are governed by laws and legal rules that vary from state to state, so it’s imperative for the victims of medicinal malpractice to seek advice or legal representation from a local attorney with experience handling medical malpractice lawsuits. If someone has been victimized by medical malpractice, an insurance company will usually fight hard to avoid paying what the claim is worth. Medical wrongdoing victims need the help of an experienced medicinal malpractice lawyer who will fight just as hard or harder on their behalf.
In Southern California, an experienced Pasadena medical malpractice attorney can probably help a victim of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice victims in the state of California are entitled to full reimbursement for all of their additional, malpractice-related medical expenses, all lost wages, and all other malpractice-related costs. However, California limits awards for malpractice-related pain and suffering to $250,000.