What Are the Most Common Causes of Medical Malpractice?

Medical Malpractice | March 18, 2022

When a physician, nurse or another health care practitioner falls short of the accepted standards of care for the medical industry, patients can suffer dire consequences. If a medical provider does not use the proper amount of care or skill in treating a patient, resulting in patient injury or death, this is known as medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is much more common than most patients realize. Identifying the most common causes of medical malpractice can help make health care safer for everyone. It can also alert you to the possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Louisville if you’ve been injured by a negligent practitioner.

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnosis is a critical part of the medical care of a patient. Without a timely and accurate diagnosis, a doctor cannot recommend the correct treatment for a patient’s injury, illness or condition. This failure to treat can result in a poor patient health outcome that could have been avoided with a proper and timely diagnosis. Diagnostic errors take three main forms:

  • Medical misdiagnosis – carelessly mistaking one health condition for something else.
  • Delayed diagnosis – taking an unreasonable amount of time to diagnose a patient.
  • Failure to diagnose – sending a patient home without diagnosing the condition.

When making a diagnosis, a physician must adhere to certain protocols. These include conducting a physical exam, speaking with the patient about his or her symptoms, administering the correct medical tests, properly interpreting test results, and referring the patient to specialists when necessary. Skipping any steps or failing to pay proper attention to a patient’s complaints can lead to a harmful diagnostic error.

Medication Mistakes

Medications possess great power to heal. They save lives and improve the quality of life for millions of people. When prescribed or administered incorrectly, however, drugs have the same amount of power to harm. Physicians have a responsibility to check a patient’s background and medical history, look for potential adverse drug interactions or allergies, prescribe the right drug and dosage, and warn patients of possible medication side effects. Nurses and pharmacies also have standards of care that they must obey when administering medication to patients. Any breach of the standard of care can cause a dangerous medication mistake and related injury or death.

Injury During Treatment

Injury during treatment can refer to almost endless possible patient injuries due to the failure of a health care provider to use an appropriate or reasonable level of care, skill or knowledge. If a hospital uses unsanitary equipment to operate, for example, this can cause a patient infection. Carelessly injuring a patient during treatment can have lifelong consequences for the victim.

Surgical or Anesthesia Errors

A surgeon and his or her operating room staff have high standards of care that they must meet when performing any type of surgery. They must follow specific protocols according to health care standards, including obtaining a patient’s informed consent prior to a procedure, properly preparing for the surgery, checking multiple times that they have the correct patient, communicating clearly with each other during the operation, and counting medical tools and equipment before and after the surgery. Any mistake while anesthetizing or operating on a patient can have severe complications, including a patient hemorrhaging, suffering brain damage, sustaining a permanent disability or passing away.

Birth Injuries

Childbirth is a complex medical specialty that deals with the health and safety of both mother and child. All practitioners involved in the birth process, from pregnancy to delivery, must use proper levels of skill and care. This means diagnosing any maternal conditions, recognizing risk factors, properly handling emergencies during delivery, ordering C-sections when necessary and providing proper postnatal care. If a health care provider is negligent in any regard during pregnancy, labor or delivery, it can harm the mother and/or baby.

If you or a loved one has been affected by any of these common causes of medical malpractice, please contact the Law Offices of Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery today for a free case evaluation with an attorney in Louisville. Injured patients have legal rights in Kentucky.

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