A 2016 study by John Hopkins found that over a quarter million people in the U.S. die every year due to medical errors, making it the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Not all forms of medical malpractice result in death, injuries are also common and may include significant loss of income, constant pain and long-term disability.
Medical malpractice isn’t about simply being unhappy with your healthcare provider. It occurs when a healthcare professional fails to take action that they should have, provide necessary treatment or gives inappropriate, substandard treatment that causes injury or ultimate leads to death. In those situations, it may be appropriate to contact a lawyer specializing in personal injury in Pittsburgh, or in the city you live in.
You might wonder what types of situations can lead to medical malpractice – these are some of the most common forms.
There are many different injuries that can result to a fetus during pregnancy or to an infant during the birthing process. Cerebral palsy is relatively common, affecting approximately two to three out of every 1,000 children born. It’s frequently the result of damage to the brain that occurs during birth, sometimes due to failure to monitor fetal distress during labor, improper monitoring of the mother in labor or inadequate birth techniques. Other injuries can occur that are the result of failing to diagnose a medical condition that the mother has such as anemia, gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, failing to administer a cesarean section when it was necessary or improperly using forceps, among other causes.
Misdiagnosis is common among malpractice cases as well. This occurs when the physician examines a patient but gives an incorrect diagnosis. The healthcare provider may say the patient has no illness or disease at all, or that the patient has a condition that he or she doesn’t have. The reason this is considered as malpractice is that it prevents the patient from receiving treatment that’s needed, potentially resulting in worsening of the condition or even death. A misdiagnosis is only considered malpractice if the doctor failed to do what another qualified doctor would have done in a similar situation, and the patient is harmed as a result.
Medication mistakes are also quite common and can occur in multiple ways. A healthcare professional might administer a medication inappropriately, make an error in writing the initial prescription, or fail to notice the potential for a harmful interaction. The most common medication mistakes involve improper dosage.
While you might imagine that surgical errors are most common during a complex operation like brain or spinal cord surgery, they actually occur more often during commonly performed operations such as a hysterectomy or colonoscopy. For example, if the bowl is accidentally perforated during a colonoscopy, bacteria can get into the abdominal cavity potentially leading to sepsis and peritonitis that can affect internal organs like the liver, kidneys or lunges and may even lead to death.