What Are the Types of Medical Incidents That Lead to Medical Malpractice?

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What Are the Types of Medical Incidents That Lead to Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or another healthcare professional fails to uphold the duty of care owed to a patient and the patient suffers harm as a result. Not all types of medical incidents are considered malpractice, even if they wind up causing injury or harm. There are some types of medical incidents that are more likely to be considered malpractice than others. Read on to find out about the most common types of medical incidents that lead to malpractice claims.

Diagnostic Errors

Diagnostic errors are the most common source of medical malpractice claims in the United States. They come in many forms, with the most common being:

  1. Delayed diagnosis
  2. Missed diagnosis
  3. Wrong diagnosis
  4. Failure to diagnose related diseases

Diagnostic errors are most common in emergency rooms, but they can occur in any clinical setting. If a missed, delayed, or the wrong diagnosis leads to a failure to provide adequate care and subsequent harm to the patient, it could be considered medical malpractice. 

Surgical Errors

As with diagnostic errors, surgical errors can cause potentially devastating results. Most of them fall under a category known as “never events,” first introduced by the NQF in 2001. These types of medical errors should never occur, meaning that they are preventable. In the context of surgery, examples of these events include:

  • Performing an operation on the wrong patient
  • Performing an operation on the wrong body part
  • Accidentally leaving surgical tools inside a patient
  • Performing the wrong type of surgery

These four examples constitute issues that should never come up and are always considered medical malpractice. Other examples of malpractice that do not fall under the category of never events can include harming healthy organs in the process of performing surgery and failing to recognize dangerous health conditions that lead to injury or death.

Medication Mistakes

Medication mistakes are most common in hospitals, although they can also occur in outpatient pharmacies. Administering the wrong medication, or even the right medication at the wrong dose can have potentially life-altering or fatal effects, depending on the type of medication involved. In a hospital setting, medication mistakes can also include:

  1. Incorrect administration of medications
  2. Failing to provide patients with scheduled doses
  3. Administering medications at the wrong time
  4. Preparing compound medications incorrectly
  5. Failing to monitor patients for medication-induced complications

If any of these problems lead to injury or another form of harm, the responsible party may be held liable. Responsible parties can include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others. It’s worth noting, however, that complications arising from a patient’s medication non-compliance are not considered grounds for filing a malpractice claim.

Pressure Sores, AKA Bedsores

When a patient develops bedsores in a hospital or another medical facility, it’s almost always a result of medical malpractice. Bedsores only develop when bedridden or wheelchair-bound patients are not repositioned often enough to prevent them. Since bedsores are completely preventable, the affected patient’s healthcare providers can almost always be held liable.

Schedule a Consultation

Not sure if a medical incident constitutes an example of malpractice, or know that a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or another healthcare worker caused a loved one harm and want to take action? It’s time to reach out to a personal injury lawyer that handles medical malpractice cases to schedule a consultation and find out about legal options for holding the responsible parties liable.

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