As medical malpractice attorneys, we have handled many lawsuits against healthcare providers. In our experience, the most common reasons for a patient to file a lawsuit are:
- wanting to prevent a similar harm to another patient
- wanting an explanation for how or why an injury occurred
- needing financial compensation to provide care for an injured person
- wanting to hold the medical professional accountable
But what events most commonly cause a patient to sue?
Misdiagnosis, Failure to Diagnose, Delayed Diagnosis
If a patient is misdiagnosed, or if the diagnosis is delayed, the consequences can be grave. A misdiagnosis, or a delay in a diagnosis, can lead to improper or delayed treatment, and this can lead to adverse effects or severe harm. For example, a delay in diagnosis can allow a disease to progress or can limit treatment options that may have been available earlier with a proper or timely diagnosis.
If the healthcare provider acted negligently in failing to identify, diagnose, and treat a patient’s medical condition, and if that delay or misdiagnosis caused harm, the treating healthcare provider may be liable for medical malpractice.
In some cases, surgical errors may constitute medical malpractice. Examples may include puncturing internal organs, injuring blood vessels, operating on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical instruments inside the body. These errors can result in infection, damage to organs, tissue and nerve damage, or even death.
Despite the technological advances and techniques that surgeons have at their disposal, surgical errors still occur. Sometimes, they are unavoidable, but other times, they may be due to the negligence of the surgeon. If a surgeon makes an unreasonable error that causes harm, that can be the basis of a medical malpractice claim.
Medication errors can cause severe harm to a patient, including permanent disability and death. According to the World Health Organization, “[u]nsafe medication practices and medication errors are a leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in health care systems across the world.” This includes the United States, where errors are unfortunately all too common. Examples of medication errors include cases where a doctor or other medical professional writes an incorrect dosage on a prescription, issues a prescription that should never have been given under the circumstances, administers an incorrect amount of a medication, or when medical equipment gives the patient the wrong dose of a medication. Sometimes, these errors occur when a medical professional administers medication that should never have been provided to the patient in the first place. When any type of medication error causes harm, that may be a basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Anesthesia includes powerful drugs that can cause serious injuries. There are three types of anesthesia: (1) general anesthesia, where the patient is completely unconscious; (2) regional anesthesia, where a part of the body is anesthetized, but the patient remains conscious (like an epidural); and (3) local anesthesia, where only a small part of the body is treated, like numbing part of a patient’s mouth before filling a cavity.
Anesthesia commonly causes side effects like nausea, vomiting, and temporary mental confusion. More serious and even fatal reactions are much less common, but can include allergic reactions, trouble breathing, brain damage, stroke, nerve injuries, heart attack, and even death. When these injuries occur, they may be due to a medical professional’s negligence.
Common mistakes in administering anesthesia include:
- giving a dosage that is too big or too small
- improper intubation
- improper monitoring of a patient following the administration of anesthesia
- failing to recognize complications from anesthesia
- not properly instructing patients on pre-surgery preparation
When these anesthesia errors cause harm, they may form the basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Pregnancy Care and Labor and Delivery Management
Improper pregnancy care, or improper labor and delivery management of the mother and baby can turn one of the most joyful events in life into something tragic. When there is improper care to the pregnant mother and/or baby, catastrophic injuries can occur. Some of these injuries include physical injuries to the baby’s head, arms, or shoulders and can include devastating neurological injuries like brain bleeds and cerebral palsy - injuries that a patient and family will need to face for the entirety of their lives.
What injuries are caused by errors in pregnancy care, or during labor and delivery?
Common birth injuries to mothers include:
- uncontrolled bleeding
- uterine rupture
- damage to other organs
- inability to have future children
Birth injuries to children can include:
- bone fractures
- soft tissue and skin injuries
- brain damage due to lack of oxygen
- cerebral palsy
- nerve damage to the brachial plexus nerves or other nerve structures
A medical professional’s error in pregnancy management or labor and delivery may be a basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Failure to Monitor
After a medical procedure, patients often need monitoring. Depending on the type of procedure, this monitoring can occur at the hospital, a medical facility, or at home. If the medical providers caring for the patient do not monitor the patient correctly, they can sometimes miss important medical issues, and that can lead to harm. If the medical providers did not monitor the patient correctly, and this failure caused harm, the patient or the patient’s family may have a potential medical malpractice claim.
At Morris James, our attorneys have been standing up for victims since we opened our doors in 1932. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to a mistake by a healthcare professional, we may be able to help. Our medical malpractice attorneys are available to talk to you about your rights and the options that you have at this difficult time. Contact us online or call 302.888.6857 to find out more.