What Are the Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims?
Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. The exact number of deaths is hard to pinpoint because no mandatory reporting system exists. Still, numerous experts estimate that over 400,000 Americans die yearly from medical malpractice. Additionally, many more medical errors may not result in death but have devastating long-term impacts on the victims. With so much unknown and so much at stake, it is critical to know the basics of medical malpractice. Read on to learn more about five of the most common medical malpractice claims.
And remember, if you believe you or a loved one suffered injury or harm as a result of malpractice in New York, contact our team at Silberstein, Awad, and Miklos to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
The National Institute of Health defines medical malpractice as “any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.” A medical malpractice claim requires you to prove four legal elements including:
- A professional duty owed to the patient;
- Breach of such duty;
- Injury caused by the breach; and
- Resulting damages.
5 of the Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice can happen in many different ways under various circumstances. Here’s what you should know about five of the most common medical malpractice claims.
#1 Childbirth Injuries
Injuries before, during, or after childbirth are especially heartbreaking because there are multiple potential victims. There are many types of birth injuries that include medical malpractice at various stages of the process, including:
- Poor prenatal care, including failure to properly diagnose conditions like Downs Syndrome
- Using excessive force to remove a baby from the birth canal, including the misuse of forceps
- Failure to recognize fetal distress, such as the umbilical cord wrapped around the child’s mouth, nose, or neck
- Failure to perform a C-section when medically necessary
- Mishandling the baby during birth, including dropping or shaking the child
#2 Failure to Treat
Failure to treat is a form of negligence where the medical caregiver should act but fails to do so. This failure to act violates the professional standard of care and can lead to a medical malpractice claim. Examples of failure to treat include:
- Releasing the patient from the hospital or other healthcare facility too soon
- Failing to provide proper instructions and resources for follow-up care
- Failing to order appropriate medical tests or lab work
- Failing to properly consider the patient’s medical history before prescribing drugs or establishing a course of treatment
#3 Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
An estimated one-third of all malpractice claims are related to delayed or missed diagnoses. While a timely diagnosis can save your life, the opposite is unfortunately true. If a physician fails to recognize and diagnose you promptly, the results can be catastrophic. Of course, it is unrealistic to expect every doctor to diagnose every condition properly. Still, there are certain instances where a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis could rise to the level of medical malpractice. Examples of medical malpractice due to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis include a physician’s failure to:
- Recognize clear clinical signs of specific conditions
- Order medical tests or seek more information
- Refer the patient to a specialist
- Take the necessary time to understand and document the patient’s symptoms properly
Other errors that can impact the delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis include:
- Lost or mislabeled test results
- Lab errors relating to conducting tests and evaluating the results
- Miscommunication with other healthcare professionals about the patient’s case
#4 Prescription Drug Errors
Medical malpractice is unfortunately not limited to physicians. Any healthcare provider who owes a professional standard of care to a patient can be liable, including pharmacists. Mistakes involving prescription drugs can include errors in the writing and the filling of a prescription. A mistake on either end of the process can have a severe impact, ranging from failure to treat an allergic reaction to the patient’s death. Prescription drug errors include:
- Prescribing the wrong medicine for the illness or condition
- Prescribing the wrong dosage- either too much or not enough
- Failing to recognize potentially hazardous interactions or allergic reactions with other drugs
- Failing to recognize signs of addiction, abuse, or overdose
#5 Surgical or Procedural Errors
Any time you go into an operating room, the entire surgical team has a duty to prevent you from harm. Like any team, everyone has a specific role and responsibility. Success depends on communicating effectively and working together to get the job done correctly. Although there are never any guarantees about a surgical procedure’s outcome, some mistakes could violate the duty of care owed to you as a patient. Surgical errors that may rise to the level of medical malpractice include:
- Performing surgery on the wrong part or wrong side of the body
- Performing the wrong surgery on the wrong patient
- Leaving tools, gauze, or other medical devices inside the patient
- Reactions or problems related to anesthesia
- Failure to adhere to all accepted medical practices before, during, and after the procedure
- Performing unnecessary surgery
Why You May Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Malpractice cases are rarely simple. They require a careful review of your medical records and other documents before filing a lawsuit. If you are a New York resident, the state’s statute of limitations imposes a deadline to initiate a medical malpractice claim. This deadline is normally 30 months after the alleged malpractice occurred. But, even 30 months is not much time when it comes to investigating and building a successful medical malpractice case.
If you believe you or a loved one suffered injury or harm as a result of malpractice in New York, contact our team at Silberstein, Awad, and Miklos today for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our medical malpractice attorneys.