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Five Common Kinds of Medical Malpractice Claims

Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers discuss five common kinds of medical malpractice claims.There are many different kinds of medical malpractice cases, but some of the most common ones are prescription drug errors, surgical (and anesthesia) mistakes, misdiagnoses, birth injuries, and a provider’s failure to treat a patient. Findings from a study by Johns Hopkins indicate that these mistakes are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, causing approximately 250,000 deaths every year.

Medical workers are responsible for providing a certain standard of care. Medical malpractice happens when a provider’s negligence or recklessness results in harm to a patient.

Medical Misdiagnoses

Mistakes are bound to happen, but sometimes they occur because a doctor fails to recognize the signs or symptoms of a condition that another doctor would have noticed. Delayed medical diagnoses or incorrectly diagnosing a disease or illness can allow a condition to progress rapidly, sometimes with consequences. Medical providers are more like to misdiagnose certain conditions than others. Here are just a few examples of commonly misdiagnosed medical conditions and diseases:

  • Failure to diagnose a stroke in a timely manner can result in permanent and/or fatal complications such as swelling of the brain (brain edema), pneumonia, seizures, and blood clots
  • According to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, doctors misdiagnose cancers in patients approximately 30% of the time
  • Heart attacks. Doctors misdiagnose women and older individuals more frequently than men because their symptoms often present differently, and:
  • Aortic dissections. An aortic dissection is a potentially fatal condition that results from blood rushing through a tear in the wall of the aorta

Childbirth Mistakes

Mistakes during childbirth are more common than you might expect. When doctors or nurses make mistakes or provide substandard care or supervision, the mother or the newborn may sustain mild to severe injuries, some of which are deadly. These injuries typically result from improper handling of the baby or negligent use of birthing instruments and/or surgical tools. Common birth injuries and traumas include:

  • Broken bones, fractures, and bruising. When a doctor uses the wrong tools or tugs on the baby too forcefully, it can result in bruising, fractures, and broken bones
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage, or bleeding that happens when blood vessels in the infant’s eye break
  • Brachial plexus injuries. The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves connecting an infant’s spinal cord to his or her arms and hands. Brachial plexus injuries sometimes result in permanent nerve damage, and:
  • Bell’s palsy, or a condition resulting from damage to a baby’s facial nerve during labor

Many other types of birth trauma can happen when a healthcare provider makes a mistake during labor. While some of the mistakes that happen are impossible to predict, far too many are completely preventable.

Failure to Treat

Failure to treat means pretty much exactly what it sounds like. A doctor can fail to treat patients in many different ways, like when he or she ignores their reported symptoms or fails to monitor the patient’s condition. Other examples of failures to treat include not referring a patient out to a specialist, not providing commonly accepted interventions in a timely manner, failing to order and perform necessary testing, and not making the patient aware of treatments that are available for their condition.

Anesthesia and Surgical Errors

Surgery is inherently risky, but surgical errors are any preventable mistake that occurs during a procedure. These preventable failures in care are called “never events,” or events that would never happen during the scope of proper surgical care and/or treatment. Errors in administering anesthesia are just one type of surgical mistake. Other common surgical errors are:

  • Wrong-procedure mistakes, or when a doctor performs the incorrect procedure to treat a condition
  • Wrong-site surgeries, which happen when a doctor performs the procedure on the wrong body part or area (like on the left arm instead of the right)
  • Wrong-patient errors, or when a doctor performs the operation on the wrong patient
  • Nerve and/or organ damage
  • Leaving surgical instruments or tools inside a patient
  • Post-surgical infections
  • Improper follow-up care

Following any surgery, it is critical that medical professionals provide comprehensive care and follow-up treatment. Not only does this improve a patient’s chances for having a positive outcome, but also gives the doctor the opportunity to monitor for any developing warning signs or potential complications that may appear post-surgery.

Prescription Drugs

Medication mistakes can cause an array of dangerous effects on a person’s health and wellbeing. Errors in administering medication present in a variety of ways, like:

  • Administering medications at incorrect dosages
  • Giving one patient another patient’s medication
  • Prescribing the wrong medication for the complaint or condition
  • Pharmaceutical errors like filling the wrong medicine
  • Prescribing a medication that the patient’s chart indicates he or she has an allergy to

Making a mistake in prescribing or administering medication increases the risk for a patient to develop fatal and nonfatal medical complications alike.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical malpractice mistakes are made during the testing, diagnosis, treatment, and general care of patients. When a provider’s negligence results in harm to the patient, the injured party can file a medical malpractice claim. Injured individuals can pursue legal action against the following healthcare workers and institutions:

  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Doctors
  • Aides
  • Nurses
  • Dentists
  • Psychiatrists, and:
  • Other healthcare workers and facilities

Do you want to learn more about filing a medical malpractice claim? Someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.

Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947

Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.

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