Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, resulting in 210,000 to 400,000 preventable deaths each year. This means, as a country, we bury the equivalent of the population of Miami each year due to medical errors alone. Medical mistakes may be the result of a lack of training, under staffing, or simple human error. Not all medical mistakes — even when they result in death — result in a medical malpractice claim. The following are the most common cases of medical malpractice in the United States.
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis
A 2013 study reviewing thousands of medical malpractice claims found that delayed and misdiagnosis are the most common medical malpractice claims. Misdiagnosis is responsible for 26% of cases while delayed diagnosis accounts for 63%. The majority of missed diagnosis claims related to heart attack and cancer. Delayed diagnosis is a serious problem because a lack of early treatment for conditions like cancer can be fatal whereas a misdiagnosis can lead to disability or painful and ineffective treatments.
Drug errors account for 6-20% of medical malpractice claims. This type of claim may result from an error in prescribing, dosing, or administering anything from antibiotics to steroids, anticoagulants, and antidepressants. More than half of fatal drug mistakes occurred in seniors.
Wrong Patient or Wrong Site Surgery
While it may seem shocking, a surprising number of people undergo surgical procedures that were meant for another patient and sometimes surgeons perform surgery on the wrong body part. There have even been cases of the wrong limb being amputated. This is usually the result of poor communication between hospital staff.
The proper administration of anesthesia requires considering a patient’s weight, age, medical condition, surgery type, medications, prior reactions to anesthesia, and certain conditions like respiratory failure or a prior heart attack that can make anesthesia dangerous. Patients under anesthesia must be constantly monitored as well. Anesthesia mistakes tend to be more deadly than surgery mistakes as even a small mistake can lead to brain damage, permanent disability, or death.
Many injuries to newborns are the result of medical malpractice. This may include brain injuries like cerebral palsy, fractures, or erb’s palsy. Negligence during childbirth may include failure to anticipate birth complications, failure to respond to signs of fetal distress, failure to order a C-section when it’s necessary, it inappropriate use of an extractor or forceps. Sometimes medical malpractice occurs during prenatal care. This may include failure to identify birth defects, an ectopic pregnancy, medical conditions of the mother like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, or failure to diagnose a contagious disease.
Medical malpractice cases are notoriously complex. If you or someone you love has been injured by a medical professional’s negligence, it’s important to seek help from an experienced medical malpractice attorney of Albuquerque who will protect your rights and help you seek fair compensation.