Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury that involves a deviation from a standard of care by a doctor or other health care provider, which harms a patient or causes their death. There are five general categories of medical malpractice:
- Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis
This is the most common malpractice claim against physicians. These types of claims frequently involve breast, colon and lung cancer. When a physician fails to diagnose a condition, he or she is said to have missed it. Another commonly missed diagnosis is that of a heart attack, especially in women, as they sometimes present with different symptoms than men.
A misdiagnosis is a wrong diagnosis. This occurs when a doctor attributes the patient’s symptoms to an illness that is not present, or not the true cause of the symptoms. As the patient’s condition worsens, the doctor may make the correct diagnosis. If the patient is harmed or dies because of the misdiagnosis or receiving incorrect medical treatment, the doctor might be held liable.
- Medication errors
These types of errors can become complicated quickly. Medication errors include prescribing the wrong medication, especially if the prescription is based on a misdiagnosis. Another error happens when the right drug is given to the wrong person, or the medication is given in the wrong dosage. A doctor might prescribe the wrong dose, or a pharmacist may give the wrong dose. Even equipment malfunctions, such as an IV, can cause a large amount of a drug to be administered in a short period of time. It could also cause an insufficient amount of a drug to be administered over a long period of time.
- Surgical errors
These are the errors that most people think of in the context of medical malpractice. They might involve leaving sponges or surgical instruments in the patient’s body, operating on or removing the wrong body part, or even operating on the wrong person. All of these types of errors are known as “never events.” They never should have happened, and they are 100 percent preventable.
- Negligence during pregnancy and birth
There are many risks involved with pregnancy and birth, so due care and caution must be taken to assure the health of the mother and the baby. Deviations from the standard of care can result in complications and lifelong disabilities, or even death, for both mother and baby. The injuries that can occur from errors made during pregnancy or delivery are wide ranging. Some common birth injuries might include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Hypoglycemic brain damage
- Erb’s palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
- Klumpke’s palsy
- Facial paralysis
It’s estimated that about 28,000 babies are born every year in the United States with an injury. They can have debilitating effects on the life of a child, and they’re likely to result in lifelong medical expenses.
Medical events are very complicated and always carry risks. Surgeries and other medical treatments can lead to any number of complications that arise during the process. If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury, or even death, because of a medical mistake, you may want to speak with an experienced Milwaukee WI personal injury attorney who focuses his or her practice on the victims of medical malpractice.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim, S.C. for their insight into personal injury practice.