What is Medical Malpractice?

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice takes place when a doctor, hospital or other health care giver causes injury to a patient as following a negligent act or oversight. The negligence could be as a result of an error in diagnosis, healthcare management, or treatment.

Medical Malpractice comes in many forms. You can file a medical malpractice suit in case of the following:

  • If your doctor fails to make a diagnosis or makes a misdiagnosis.
  • If lab tests results are misread or ignored.
  • If unnecessary surgery is performed.
  • When surgical errors occur or an operation is performed on the wrong surgery site.
  • When medication is give improperly or a wrong dose administered.
  • When after care or follow up treatment is poor.
  • When prematurely discharged.
  • When the patient history is disregarded or not taken appropriately.
  • When proper tests are not ordered.
  • When symptoms are not recognized adequately.


Most medical malpractice lawsuits originate from delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a medical illness, injury or condition. When a doctor’s diagnosis influences incorrect cause of treatment, delays provision of treatment or fails to give treatment thus causing a patient’s condition to worsen, this can be grounds for filing a medical malpractice law suit and medical error. That notwithstanding, a mistake in the diagnosis alone cannot form the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit. For a medical malpractice lawsuit to stand trial, your lawyer must be able to demonstrate that a doctor patient relationship was in existence during the misdiagnosis, that the doctor was incompetent by failing to use reasonable skills in diagnosing and treating you and by so doing demonstrated negligence, and that the doctors negligence did in fact cause injury.

A doctor might give a wrong diagnosis because equipment used to conduct medical tests was faulty at the time, as a result of human error such as mishandling and contamination of samples or inaccurate readings on test by technicians. In this case, the person who led to the misdiagnosis is held legally responsible.

Medical malpractice law suits can be very tricky and having a competent lawyer to handle your case is imperative.

Medical Negligence

Medical negligence on it’s on cannot merit a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, when the negligence causes injury to a patient, then it can be make a good case for medical malpractice.

Medical negligence takes place when a nurse, doctor, dentist, surgeon or any other medical practitioner deviates from the accepted medical standards while performing their professional duties. For instance, when a doctor gives substandard treatment to a patient based on set standards, their training and knowledge, then that doctor can be considered as being negligent. If a lab technician ignores the clearly laid out procedures on handling samples they are being negligent.

Unless the medical negligence causes injury or harm to the patient, it cannot qualify for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Injury could be causing a patient’s condition to worsen, if a patient develops unexpected and unreasonable complications, if the negligence forces the patient to get additional treatment. These are just a few examples of injury in malpractice cases.

Surgical Complications

A surgical error is simply defined as a preventable mistake during an operation. All surgeries come with some level of risk and that is why patients are asked to sign consent form know as informed consent which declares that they have allowed surgeons to operate on them and understand the risks that could come with the procedure. However, when surgical errors occur, the risks they present go beyond those covered under the informed consent form. Surgical errors are ideally unexpected.

Some of the most common surgical errors include:

  • This is when the surgeon operating on you lacks the adequate skills to perform the procedure proficiently. As strange as it may sound, it does happen and it can cause serious harm on the patient or even death.
  • Inadequate preoperative planning. It is extremely important for surgeons to prep adequately before surgery. The preparation involves reviewing medical records and making contingency plans for any complications that could occur during surgery. It may also include adequate preparation by assistants and nurses tasked with ensuring that all equipment needed for the surgery is available and ready for use.
  • Inappropriate work process. This occurs when a surgeon assumes that some particular steps are unimportant during surgery. Taking shortcuts is often very costly where surgery is concerned.
  • Poor communication. When a surgeon fails to give clear and proper instructions, it can result to critical errors during surgery. For instance, if the wrong site for surgery is marked, or when some key surgical equipment is not on hand during surgery, things can go wrong fast.
  • Fatigue is common among surgeons as they often labor long shifts. It is common to make mistakes when one is tired. Human errors are less seen among people who are well rested.
  • Influence of Alcohol or drugs. It’s unfortunate but some surgeons do operate on patients while under the influence. While this is unethical and illegal, it has been known to happen and sometimes, can lead to very catastrophic outcomes during surgery.
  • Sometimes a surgeon might just be too casual about the procedure. Failing to give the procedure the seriousness it deserves can be a recipe for disaster. Neglect could also occur when surgical equipment is used while not properly sterilized or using defective equipment in surgery.

There is a wide range of surgical errors that can occur and be grounds for medical malpractice. Below are some of the common ones.

  • Nerve injury during surgery.
  • Administration of too little or too much medication such as anesthesia during surgery.
  • Making an incision in the wrong place during surgery.
  • If a piece of surgical equipment is left inside a patient.
  • Performing surgery on the wrong body part.
  • Performing surgery on the wrong patient.

If you wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit, talk to a lawyer who specialized on medical malpractice because such cases are often complex from both a procedural and legal standpoint. A competent lawyer with experience handling similar claims in your state will increase your chances of a favorable verdict.

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