Dealing with an illness can be stressful, especially if you’re faced with a serious or life-threatening condition. Innovative treatment options mean more people than ever before are able to overcome many serious illnesses and diseases if long as they receive the appropriate care at the appropriate time. But what if your healthcare provider makes a mistake, administering the wrong type of care or the wrong amount of a medicine, or simply makes the wrong diagnosis to begin with?
It would be nice to think these kinds of errors are rare, but sadly, they’re not. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., responsible for about 10% of all deaths annually, according to research conducted by patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Most Common Medical Errors
Medical errors can occur in any medical specialty and in any inpatient or outpatient setting, and at any level of care, and they can affect people with rare or serious medical conditions as well as those with common conditions. In the U.S., medical malpractice claims are on the rise, and many of them stem from five specific areas of care where errors tend to occur more frequently:
Misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses occur in as many as 20% of all patients, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic and a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) – that means diagnostic errors could affect as many as one in every five patients, resulting in serious or life-threatening consequences or even death.
Medical misdiagnosis can occur when a healthcare provider diagnoses the wrong condition, or where they fail to diagnose a condition at all. When a wrongful diagnosis occurs, two things can happen: Patients may receive the wrong type of care or medication and be injured as a result, or the wrong diagnosis can delay care, which in turn can allow the condition to become much more serious.
Childbirth-related injuries can occur at the time of delivery or during pregnancy. Some of the most common delivery-related injuries occur as a result of how the baby was delivered. Brain or facial injuries due to forceps deliveries, fractured bones, and nerve damage that occurs as a result of the way the baby is removed from the uterus are all devastating but unfortunately common types of birth injuries resulting in limb or skull deformity, nerve palsies, cerebral palsy or other types of brain damage. Failing to respond to signs of fetal distress or failure to order a cesarean section under certain circumstances are other common causes of birth injuries.
Sometimes, injuries to the mother or the baby occur during prenatal care, such as when a serious condition like gestational diabetes, anemia, high blood pressure or a birth defect is undiagnosed or improperly treated.
Medication errors typically occur in one of three ways (or a combination of these three):
- the wrong medication is prescribed
- the wrong dosage is prescribed
- the equipment used to deliver medication malfunctions, resulting in a dosing error
Medication errors can also occur when a doctor makes an incorrect diagnosis, and medication is prescribed to treat a condition that doesn’t exist. In hospital and other inpatient settings, medication might be delivered to the wrong patient, or a pharmacist might dispense the wrong type of medication or the wrong dose.
When it comes to surgery, most people focus on the skills of the surgeon. But in fact, the anesthesiologist bears a lot of the responsibility for your health and care during surgery, as well as the success of the surgery itself. Anesthesia uses very powerful drugs that have a direct effect on the brain, and even a relatively minor error by the anesthesiologist can have life-altering and even deadly consequences. Some of the most common causes of anesthesia-related injuries include:
- administering too much anesthesia
- failure to adequately monitor or respond to the patient’s vital signs
- improper administration of anesthesia, including problems with intubating a patient to help them breathe
- failure to ensure equipment is working properly
Errors can also occur when an anesthesiologist fails to obtain a patient’s medical history or to provide proper care based on that history.
Surgical errors are another common cause of medical malpractice lawsuits. Many surgery-related medical malpractice suits stem from issues like internal organ injury or even operating on the wrong organ. Some surgeons leave sponges or instruments in a patient, resulting not only in significant injury, but also the need for additional surgery. Errors in surgical post-op care are another common cause of medical malpractice suits.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Certainly no one is immune to making errors in life, and the law requires doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to be accountable just like anyone else when they make mistakes. After all, even a single, small error can have devastating consequences when it affects medical treatment and care.
In determining medical malpractice cases, it’s not enough to be injured as a result of a healthcare provider’s actions. You must also prove the doctor, nurse or other health care provider did or didn’t do what a reasonably careful physician, nurse, or professional would do in the same or similar situation and that the failure to be reasonably carefully was the cause of your injuries. Proving medical negligence requires a high degree of expertise and a significant amount of experience – and that why it’s important to have skilled medical malpractice lawyers handling your case.
At the Mellino Law Firm, our team of top-ranked attorneys draws from more than 30 years of experience helping clients throughout the Cleveland area successfully handle medical malpractice lawsuits, working with medical experts and gathering evidence and testimony to devise strong cases that support and protect our clients’ rights. Medical malpractice occurs more often than you may think, and its effects can be devastating.
If you think you may have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Mellino Law Firm at (440) 333-3800 and schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your case today.