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The 7 Top Causes of Medical Malpractice Claims

The 7 Top Causes of Medical Malpractice Claims

The negligence of a doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other medical professionals and facilities contribute to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year in the U.S. alone –­ about 440,000, to be exact. While some mistakes are inevitable, and not all mistakes are grounds for a claim of negligence, there are some errors that occur over and over again, contributing to the high number of preventable deaths each year.

According to Dr. RJ Roberts of the University of Wisconsin Medical School, these are the 7 top causes of medical malpractice claims in the country:


  1. Failure to Obtain Informed Consent – Medical errors are caused when a patient is not fully informed of expected outcomes, potential risks and reasonable alternatives to the recommended course of action by the doctor, which can result in damages to the patient.

  2. Cancer Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose or a Delay in Diagnosis – Approximately 20% of screening mammograms return false negative results in breast cancer patients. Doctors who do not follow up appropriately on false negative studies for this and other types of cancer may cause harm to the patient.

  3. Negligent Procedures or Surgical Errors – Years of medical school and procedural training cannot account for a doctor who is physically exhausted or mentally distracted. Sleep deprivation or stress may result in severe patient complications.

  4. Wrong Diagnosis and Negligent Misdiagnosis of Fracture or Trauma – Doctors who assume an illness or fracture is minor without following up with additional x-rays or diagnostic tests are liable for medical malpractice claims. Dependent on the location of the fracture, the failure to follow through can have severe consequences, including loss of a limb.

  5. Delay in Diagnosis or Failure to Consult in a Timely Manner – A hesitation to make a referral, whether it be to a specialist or a course of treatment, can result in adverse repercussions suffered by the patient as a result.

  6. Medication Errors or Medication Malpractice Resulting from Negligent Drug Treatment – It is estimated that one million medication mistakes happen each year – about one mistake every day for every patient. Prescription drug malpractice claims can also result from a doctor’s poor handwriting on the prescription order and misinterpretation by a pharmacist.

  7. Birth Injury Malpractice or Negligent Maternity Care Practice – The two most common birth defect or birth injury medical malpractice claims arise from excessive use of oxytocin, specifically if the baby is experiencing distress, and the doctor’s failure to ensure their patient is covered by another physician informed about the patient’s clinical history should the primary doctor be unavailable.


There are many reasons for the increasing cases of medical malpractice in the United States. If you or your family have questions about medical errors that should not have occurred and are not fully explained by the care providers, safety would require you to investigate the matter with an attorney who specialized in medical malpractice.

How common is medical malpractice?


According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. - right behind heart disease and cancer. In 2012, over $3 billion was spent in medical malpractice payouts, averaging one payout every 43 minutes.

Please contact the attorneys of Crandall & Pera Law if you have any questions regarding what you believe to be a medical malpractice claim. We will provide you and your family with a free, no-obligation case review. You can reach our Ohio team at  877-686-8879, our Kentucky team at 877-686-8879, or use our contact form to find out more.

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