What Are Common Examples of Medical Malpractice?May 24, 2022
Medical malpractice happens whenever a medical professional commits an egregious error that causes harm to the patient. However, it takes more than a simple error to rise to the level of professional medical malpractice.
Your doctor should provide you with an acceptable level of care that is normal for your condition. As long as the medical procedures are performed within an acceptable standard of care, mistakes are not the same as malpractice.
Medical doctors and other licensed medical professionals are human and subject to human error. Also, a medical diagnosis is not an absolute science. Your doctor might make a medically acceptable diagnosis that turns out to be completely wrong.
That does not mean medical malpractice occurred. In addition, if your doctor mostly corrects the situation, it could be argued that you received a medically acceptable standard of care.
Medical malpractice happens when the standard of care is not acceptable. The following are some common examples of medical malpractice that might affect you or someone who you know.
Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
You cannot get better if your doctor cannot properly diagnose your condition. Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition could rise to the level of medical malpractice.
Some medical conditions are very difficult to diagnose and might require repeated attempts before your doctor finally solves the problem. However, the condition might be relatively obvious, and a basic diagnosis should be simple to perform.
If so, your doctor could be liable for medical malpractice if the basic diagnostic procedures were not performed or otherwise were ignored.
Failing to Recognize Symptoms
If you are suffering from what should be a reasonably easy condition to diagnose, your doctor should make that diagnosis. But failing to recognize the symptoms of your medical problem could rise to the level of malpractice. If the condition is relatively common, a medically acceptable standard of care exists to diagnose and treat it.
Your doctor might fail to recognize the symptoms of your medical condition. That failure might cause your doctor to conclude something very different is occurring. Any medical care could be virtually useless and might cause more medical harm than good.
Misinterpreting or Ignoring Laboratory Results
Laboratory tests could tell a medical doctor much about what is ailing you. However, if your doctor ignores laboratory results or misinterprets them, the wrong medical procedures might be performed.
Misinterpreting laboratory results is a bit more forgivable, owing to the potential for human error. But the interpretation might be well outside the standard of acceptable care.
Ignoring laboratory results is wholly unforgivable, especially if the results clearly revealed the medical condition causing the problem. Extremely negligent misinterpretation or outright ignoring of laboratory results is a clear indicator of medical malpractice.
Failing to Order the Correct Diagnostic Tests
It is important for medical doctors to perform due diligence when diagnosing patients’ respective medical conditions. That includes performing the right diagnostic tests that help to identify different medical conditions.
A doctor might not order one or more diagnostic tests that the medical standard of care routinely would require. It is possible that one or more diagnostic tests would have revealed a medical condition that went untreated.
The doctor who negligently skipped the standard diagnostic test might be liable for medical malpractice.
Performing Incorrect or Unnecessary Surgery
When you undergo a surgical procedure, you expect it to be necessary. However, a surgeon might make a mistake and perform the wrong procedure.
Foreign Object Left inside Patient
Sometimes, a surgical procedure goes as planned. However, when it is time to close the wound, something might be left behind. A surgical sponge, needle, or similarly used object might remain inside the patient.
When foreign objects are left behind, they must be removed. Leaving them often leads to medical complications, such as additional injury, infection, or sepsis.
Surgical teams are supposed to closely monitor everything used during a procedure. That includes counting the instruments used and any sponges or other objects. But when one or more items are missed, medical malpractice occurs.
Prescribing the Wrong Medicine or Dosage
It is easy for a medical doctor to prescribe or administer the wrong medication. The wrong medication might trigger an allergic reaction or another unintended medical reaction. Meanwhile, you do not receive the correct medication, at least until the prescription mistake becomes known and corrected.
It also is easy to accidentally prescribe or deliver the wrong dosage to the patient. Medical doctors have notoriously poor penmanship. It is easy for support staff to misread a doctor’s notes or prescription and administer the wrong dosage.
When a patient is undergoing surgery, sometimes the anesthesiologist administers too much anesthesia. That can have negative health effects for the patient and is an example of the wrong dosage qualifying as medical malpractice.
Discharging Patient Too Soon
A hospital might want its beds open for new patients to occupy them. Or maybe a doctor is anxious to send a patient home to wrap up the medical case.
No matter what the reason might be, it is possible for a too-early release to result in medical complications.
A good example would be a patient who is treated for a head injury and discharged instead of being hospitalized for a night of observation. If that patient were to go into a coma while at home, a claim for medical malpractice might be made.
Ignoring a Patient’s Medical History
Patients’ respective medical histories make a big difference in the types of medical treatment that are viable for individuals. A patient might have other medical conditions that could complicate treatment for an unrelated condition.
The doctor in charge must perform due diligence to learn the patient’s medical history and how it might affect treatment. An allergic reaction or medical complications from a preexisting condition might endanger the patient and trigger a medical malpractice claim.
Poor Aftercare or Medical Follow-Up
It is important for doctors and other medical professionals to ensure that their patients heal and recover as fully as possible. Poor aftercare and a lack of medical follow-up could lead to life-threatening conditions.
Infections, unexpected reactions to treatment, and other complications could endanger a patient’s health. If the acceptable standard of care requires thorough aftercare, a doctor would be negligent in not providing that level of care. That could trigger a medical malpractice case.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
You cannot just accuse a doctor or other medical professionals of malpractice and prevail. That is true even if a doctor made a mistake but did so while providing an acceptable standard of care.
Providing patients with medical care usually requires some level of medical investigation and deduction. That is how doctors determine the actual problem the patient is experiencing.
However, doctors often have to make educated guesses that could be wrong. Even when wrong, as long as the educated guess is based on sound reasoning and while providing the acceptable standard of care, the doctor has not committed medical malpractice.
Even doctors and other licensed medical professionals are human and prone to error. For a medical malpractice claim to stick, you need to show how the doctor or other medical professional violated the acceptable standard of care.
Once that is demonstrated, you need to prove that the unacceptable standard of care caused you to suffer harm. A medical diagnosis and subsequent treatment to correct the harm caused by the malpractice could help to affirm that it occurred.
The financial costs, additional pain and suffering, and any physical conditions that resulted from the malpractice all help to prove that it happened and caused you to suffer harm.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Patients
If you recently survived the ill effects of professional malpractice, the experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help you to hold liable parties accountable. We will fight to secure the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.