Fortunately, most doctors and nurses do not make mistakes when it comes to diagnosing and treating patients. However, mistakes do happen and sometimes these mistakes can result in serious injury or even death. Medical malpractice is defined as the negligence by a health care provider, by action or failure to act, leading to injury to death. Medical treatment must be below the standard set by the medical community for it to be considered malpractice, otherwise it does not meet the legal definition of medical malpractice.
Whether it is during prenatal care or childbirth, there are a number of ways a doctor or nurse can be negligent during the course of treatment.
Prenatal care negligence is the failure to identify health issues or provide medical treatment before childbirth takes place. Examples of negligence in prenatal care, include:
Failure to diagnose the mother with a medical condition, such as:
Failure to identify birth defects
Failure to identify ectopic pregnancies
Failure to diagnose a disease that could transfer from the mother to the fetus, such as:
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Lyme disease
- Neonatal lupus
Other fetal injuries can occur due to medical malpractice, including:
- Brain injuries (cerebral palsy or seizures)
- Broken bones
- Damage to nerves
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
The largest percentage of medical malpractice claims are those of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. If a diagnosis is delayed or incorrect, a patient may lose valuable time needed for treatment. This could lead to the addition of other illnesses or even death. Proving misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis typically depends on evaluating how other doctors in the same field would have handled treatment. If one doctor makes a diagnostic error, but other reasonably skilled and competent doctors would not have made the same error, the original doctor may be liable for medical malpractice.
Medication errors can happen in a number of ways, from the initial diagnosis to the issuing of the prescribed drug. Here are a few scenarios in which medication errors can occur:
- Doctor prescribes the wrong medication
- Patient was misdiagnosed, resulting in the wrong medicine being prescribed, causing possible harm
- A patient may be given medication that belongs to someone else in a hospital setting
- Incorrect dosage is given
Typically even more dangerous than surgical errors, small anesthesia mistakes could result in permanent injury or death. Medical malpractice can be committed by an anesthesiologist even before anesthesia is administered, if:
- A patient’s medical history is not investigated for possible complications, or
- A patient is not informed of the risks involved if preoperative instructions are not followed (such as not eating prior to surgery)
During surgery, anesthesia errors could include:
- Administering too much anesthesia to the patient
- Not monitoring the patient’s vital signs
- Failure to properly place a tracheal tube for assisted breathing
- The use of ineffective equipment
Whether it is puncturing internal organs or failing to remove surgical instruments from the patient’s body, a surgeon may be liable for malpractice from mistakes made during a surgery. If post-operative care is not handled effectively by nurses, complications may arise for the patient, including infections.
Seek Legal Assistance
The rules regarding medical malpractice are quite complex and vary from state to state. Because of the difficulty surrounding malpractice cases, it is best to seek legal counsel. Knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can help you figure out your case.