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Medical malpractice is something that happens a lot more than people realize. Doctors are highly educated, but that does not mean they are infallible. They do make mistakes, especially if they have many patients or they’re putting in a ton of hours every week.
Still, doctors have a responsibility to take care of their patients to their best abilities. If they make a critical mistake, that can kill a patient, injure them, or make them gravely ill. When that happens, the patient or their family might have medical malpractice grounds.
Let’s look at five common medical malpractice examples
Johns Hopkins University completes a study not long ago where they determined there are more than 250,000 medical malpractice deaths in the US every year. They are the third leading death cause overall. Misdiagnosis is one of the more common examples.
- Might occur if a doctor does not pay close enough attention to their patient’s symptoms
- Could mean that a doctor does not catch a fatal disease in time
If a doctor thinks that a patient has one condition, but there is something else going on with them, the doctor might recommend the wrong treatment. They may direct the patient to take the wrong medication. If the doctor does not notice their mistake in time, that could kill the patient or permanently injure them.
Not Paying Attention to a Patient’s Medical History
Neglecting to pay attention to a patient’s medical history is another relatively common medical malpractice example. If a doctor does this:
- It makes it likely they will administer a medication to which the patient is allergic
- They may miss genetic indicators that can reveal what’s happening with that patient
A patient’s medical history will often have details that should stand out to a doctor. No two individuals are alike, and if there are any puzzling medical details, the doctor can both ask the patient questions and look at their history. Prior doctors may have noticed things about the patient and mentioned them in the individual’s chart.
Misreading Laboratory Results
Lab results can also reveal what might be happening with a patient and what condition or conditions they could have. The problem is that if a nurse, doctor, or other medical professional misreads or misinterprets those results, they might draw a completely wrong conclusion.
This sometimes happens in very busy clinics or hospitals. It might also occur if the individual reading the results does not have much experience. Maybe they are working a double, and they have slept very little, which allows them to believe they see something that isn’t there.
Poor Follow-Up or Early Discharge
After surgery or following a drug regimen or illness, a doctor should check up on their patient. They should conduct a telehealth call to see how they’re doing, or else they should have the patient come in to the office to speak to them in-person.
The doctor can ascertain what further treatment is necessary based on what the patient says. If they miss this step, the patient might have a bad reaction a little further down the line, and that will be the doctor’s responsibility because they did not follow up.
If a medical professional releases a patient from a clinic or hospital too early, that can be medical malpractice as well. The patient might not be stable enough for the doctor to release them, and they could suffer a setback when they get home.
Unnecessary Surgery or Critical Surgery Errors
It’s nearly unthinkable that a doctor might operate on a patient when they don’t need it, but this does happen sometimes. A surgeon might misread a chart and perform the wrong operation or operate on the wrong patient. Incredible as this sounds, it occurs relatively often.
A critical surgery error that the surgeon could have avoided could certainly be medical malpractice as well. The surgeon must meet the recognized care standard, and that includes surgery as well as other treatment forms.
Ultimately, every medical professional is responsible for the patient or patients in their care. Nurses, doctors, orderlies, etc., must all remember that their patients are putting their very lives in their hands.
Some doctors and other medical professionals work very hard, and they don’t always get the thanks they deserve. Still, their jobs are so vital. They need to remain focused on their work when they are on the clock, so they never make a fatal or highly dangerous mistake that costs a patient their health or life.