7 Common Examples of Medical Negligence

Doug Mann

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Table of Contents
  1. What Constitutes Negligence?
  2. Medical Negligence vs. Medical Malpractice
  3. Medical Mistakes That Show Negligence
  4. Proving Medical Negligence

No one visits a hospital, doctor’s office, or emergency room with the thought of being injured in any way. The whole point of seeking medical treatment is to find a solution to your health problem, not create new ones. And despite a healthcare system that treats millions of people successfully each year, there are still cases where serious harm has come to patients due to the negligence of medical personnel.

What Constitutes Negligence?

It can be quite challenging to prove that a doctor or nurse was negligent in his or her duties to the point that a lawsuit is warranted. Generally, there was be a significant injury to the patient, the medical staff carried out their duties in a way that wasn’t up to the standard of care expected by the profession, and that negligence or mistake directly caused the injury in question.

Medical Negligence vs. Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice refers to the breach of duty by a medical provider or facility, and the term usually implies there was an element of intent or at least direct knowledge that responsibilities were not being carried out correctly.

With medical negligence, there is no intent involved, and it is typically a mistake that was made and caused some type of injury to the patient.

Medical Mistakes That Show Negligence

Mistakes that medical personnel make can occur during diagnosis, during the treatment itself, while reading X-rays or files, and at just about any part of the process. Here are just a few examples of how doctors and nurses can be negligent while tending to patients. They never shunned their duties intentionally, yet their actions may have had catastrophic consequences to the patients.  

#1. Improper Anesthesia During Surgery

Using the wrong amount or the wrong type of anesthesia during surgery can potentially have severe implications. According to the National Institutes of Health, over 2,200 anesthesia-related deaths occurred in the United States between 1999 and 2005.

If a patient has an underlying condition or allergy to certain medications and the medical staff failed to acknowledge them and gave the wrong anesthesia, this could be considered medical negligence.

#2. Problems During Childbirth

As we all know, childbirth doesn’t always go smoothly. If there is a situation where an emergency C-section was needed but wasn’t caught, and there was an injury to the baby or the mother, there may be a case for negligence.

The World Health Organization considers the ideal rate for cesarean sections to be between 10-15 percent, but as this piece from the Atlantic notes, some hospitals’ C-section rates can go as high as 70 percent. Misreading the situation when other doctors would have acted differently and prevented the damage can be considered negligent behavior.

#3. Missing a Cancer Diagnosis

Most of the time, lumps and bumps are just that, but there could be a case for medical negligence if a doctor dismisses classic symptoms as benign and they turn out to be cancer. Misreading blood tests is another way that a cancer diagnosis could be missed.

In these cases, the patient may not find out the reality for months or even years when the cancer is in its later stages and treatment is no longer an option, or the odds of survival have dropped significantly.

#4. Undiagnosed Conditions Like Heart Disease

Similar to missing a cancer diagnosis, leaving an existing condition like heart disease undiagnosed, when a different doctor in a similar circumstance would have seen it, can result in a potential lawsuit. If a patient gets a clean bill of health and goes about their daily routine, only to suffer a heart attack in the not-too-distant future, the negligence of the medical team will come into play.

#5. Misdiagnosing a Blood Clot

Issues like DVT can end up causing a fatal stroke or pulmonary embolism, and misdiagnosing a blood clot can end up with deadly consequences. In some cases, misdiagnosing a particular issue can’t be proven to be negligence, especially if it is a condition that has overlapping symptoms with milder problems and any doctor could have made the same mistake in the same situation.

#6. Medication Prescription Errors

Everyone has heard stories in the news about people dying from taking the wrong prescription medication or improper doses of the right drug. If a patient has an allergy to even one of the ingredients in a particular medication, it could lead to a fatality.

Luckily, pharmacists are the last line of defense when it comes to fulfilling prescriptions, and they might catch any errors, but the responsibility will still fall on the doctor who prescribed the medication if there was an error and something goes wrong.

#7. Post-Surgical Negligence

Even if the surgery was performed correctly, medical negligence suits could result from what happens afterward. If the post-surgical care was lacking and essential steps have been missed, which lead to a severe infection, there may be a case for negligence. This case is usually difficult to prove because other factors can lead to infections and other post-surgical issues, but it is possible.

Proving Medical Negligence

The key to filing a successful medical negligence lawsuit is proving that several specific conditions were evident during the process. First, it must be proven that a patient-doctor relationship existed, which is relatively straightforward.

Next, it must be proven that the medical professional in question made mistakes or neglected to carry out their duties and those actions caused specific injuries to the patient. If it is found that another doctor would have treated the patient differently, diagnosed differently, or advised differently under the same circumstances, then there may be a case for medical negligence.

Naturally, trying to pursue a case for medical negligence on your own will never be successful. You need a qualified personal injury lawyer with a proven track record of getting results in medical negligence cases. Your lawyer will know what type of documentation you need, which records are critical to collect, which kinds of cases are usually worth the effort, and any tactics that the medical profession uses to assert their innocence.

Having a strong legal team in place gives you the best chance of proving medical negligence occurred and of getting the compensation you deserve. Reach out today to set up a free consultation to see what we can do to help.

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