Did you know that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.? When a healthcare provider deviates from their industry-regulated standards, malpractice can occur. 

Most malpractice claims fall into one of two categories: negligence and omission. Today, we’re sharing a guide to these claims, as well as what they entail. As we share examples of medical malpractice, we’ll also explain what to look for and how to take action.

Knowledge is the key to prevention. By recognizing the signs of medical malpractice, you can help keep yourself and your loved ones safe as they utilize healthcare services. 

1. Misdiagnosis, Delayed Diagnosis, or Failure to Diagnose

According to the latest research, inaccurate or delayed diagnoses account for around 34% of all medical malpractice claims associated with death or serious disability. 

While healthcare professionals are not perfect, they are expected to use all of their experience, as well as the tools at their disposal, to issue diagnoses that are as precise as possible.

A failure to do so could result in a number of negative actions. A patient may undergo unnecessary treatments that hurt rather than help. Or, they could spend so long on the wrong path that they fail to receive the critical, necessary treatments they need. 

A misdiagnosis can occur in a number of different ways. They most commonly happen when a physician fails to take the following actions:

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms associated with a health condition
  • Refer a patient to the correct specialist
  • Require and order medical testing
  • Correctly read and analyze lab results
  • Seek additional information about an illness

Some health conditions are more obscure than others. There are also many conditions that share similar symptoms. Still, a correct diagnosis is the key to a successful treatment plan. 

2. Prescription-Related Errors

The right medication can improve a patient’s quality of life. Unfortunately, the opposite also holds true.

If a physician prescribes the wrong medication for someone, then that action could have devastating consequences. This also applies if they write the prescription for the wrong amount, or fail to send the patient to the pharmacy altogether. 

Not only should your healthcare provider be able to accurately diagnose your condition, but they should also have the ability to understand precisely which medications will be able to help treat and alleviate your symptoms.

In addition, they should take the time to go over any side effects. This includes reviewing your medical history to make sure that you don’t have any underlying conditions that would react negatively to the ingredients in certain drugs.

In some patients, prescription errors may only result in a minor allergic reaction. Others could lose their lives over such a mistake. One lesser-known aspect of this type of malpractice is recognizing signs of addiction or drug abuse in patients, which could have equally severe repercussions. 

3. Failure to Appropriately Treat

When a physician is starting a medical practice, they must ensure that they will follow certain standards of care. This includes administering the most appropriate treatment possible. However, one of the most common medical malpractice examples is a failure to treat. 

This type of malpractice is relatively general, and covers a range of oversights and errors. Some of the most frequently reported ones include:

  • Failing to provide at-home care instructions following a medical procedure
  • Releasing a patient from the hospital too soon
  • Prescribing a medication or delivering a treatment without reviewing a patient’s medical history

Often, physicians will inadvertently perform these actions because their case load is simply too high, and they’re pulled on all sides. Rather than attempting to balance it all, those providers should know how to delegate responsibilities to qualified team members.

This type of malpractice could have highly expensive for both patients and their physicians. Providers looking to protect their practices in the event of such claims can purchase medical malpractice insurance through a reputable source like Fifth Avenue Agency

4. Errors During Childbirth

When malpractice occurs during childbirth, it can affect both a mother and her infant. This can occur when a physician fails to provide reasonable care before, during, or after the birth. If prenatal care is substandard, then a pregnancy can be affected from the very beginning. 

If any wrong actions are performed, it can result in a host of injuries ranging from fetal distress to postpartum hemorrhages. A few of the most common errors that occur include:

Improperly using forceps or force to deliver a baby

  • Failing to perform a C-section if required
  • Failing to recognize warning signs of fetal distress
  • Mishandling a baby in any way after birth
  • Failing to inform a mother about known prenatal conditions before birth (e.g. Down’s syndrome)

5. Surgical Errors

Any time you undergo surgery, you expect the experts in the room to keep you as safe and protected as possible. This is true whether the surgery is emergency or elective in nature. 

Unfortunately, errors can happen in the surgical room. These can include:

  • Performing an incision at the wrong site
  • Performing surgery at the wrong site
  • Performing surgery on the incorrect patient
  • Leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body (e.g. surgical tools such as sponges)
  • Failing to recognize reactions to anesthesia 
  • Failing to follow accepted medical standards at any point during surgery

Communication is key during any surgery, and doctors are required to provide the best care possible. Though some mistakes are related to sheer oversight, others could be avoided with proper planning. 

Learn From These Examples of Medical Malpractice

Malpractice can occur in almost every industry. However, nowhere does it have as significant of an effect as in the medical field. While these examples of medical malpractice can be disheartening to learn about, it’s important to know the signs. 

Any time that you or a loved one receive care from your physician, make sure you’re partnering with a reputable and experienced provider. While mistakes can happen to anyone, they’re far less likely to occur with someone who’s dedicated to providing the utmost in patient care.