In the simplest terms possible, medical malpractice is when any doctor or other healthcare professional fails to meet their duty of care to a patient, which results in an injury or death. As you can imagine, these incidents are very rare and isolated. However, when they do happen, they can turn people’s lives upside down in an instant. Here, we’ll go over some of the most common forms of medical malpractice.
First of all, misdiagnosis. This is among the most common kinds of medical malpractice, and makes up a large proportion of medical malpractice lawyers’ work. If a doctor misdiagnoses a condition, or fails to diagnose one for far too long, it can lead to the patient missing opportunities for treatment that could have prevented serious physical harm. It can also lead to a patient being prescribed medication for a condition they don’t have, resulting in all kinds of future complications. In these cases, any successful legal action hinges on proving that the doctor did the wrong thing, and outlining how a more competent professional would have handled it. If the mistake was a major error, and any competent doctor wouldn’t have made it, then the doctor in question will probably be found guilty of medical malpractice.
Childbirth injuries are unfortunately another common example of medical malpractice, as well as one of the most devastating forms. There are any number of injuries that can happen to an expectant mother or fetus during a pregnancy, or to a child during the process of giving birth. Brain injuries, fractured bones, and full or partial paralysis are just a few of the terrible incidents that can happen during pregnancy and birth. While many medical malpractice cases have been centered around these injuries, they can also be caused by various natural causes, making the legal proceedings a little more complicated. Still, if a doctor is found to have been negligent enough to let these conditions happen, it can be a pretty serious case of malpractice.
Anesthesia mistakes are fairly rare, even for medical malpractice. However, when they happen, they can prove to be even more dangerous than errors in the actual surgery. Even small slip-ups by anesthetists can result in brain damage, permanent injuries or even death. These tragedies are typically caused by the anesthetist failing to look into a patient’s family history, or not telling the patient about the proper preoperative practices, for example not eating for a certain amount of time. Sometimes, the anesthetist simply gets measurements wrong on the day, or fails to properly monitor the patient’s vital signs when they’re under anesthesia. Sometimes, the cause of the medical issues is due to equipment being faulty. In these cases, the blame is placed on a hospital technician rather than any actual medical practitioners. One of the rarest incidents is when the anesthetist makes a wrong move inserting a tube into the trachea to assist a patient’s breathing.
Hopefully, reading about these examples hasn’t given you a crippling fear of hospitals! Medical malpractice is extremely rare, but it pays to know how it happens.