We frequently bring you stories from the legal and medical community highlighting medical malpractice prevention and litigation, but rarely do we stop to analyze exactly what medical malpractice is and how it affects you. The following is intended to be a back to basics approach to medical malpractice that will help to more clearly define the concept.
What is medical malpractice?
Healthcare workers and physicians are expected to provide a reasonable standard of care in any situation; from emergency room triage to childbirth and at every point along the way, our healthcare system has contingencies in place designed to maximize the chance of a positive outcome for any patient.
When healthcare professionals deviate from these contingencies, malpractice has occurred. Additionally, if other professionals in a given field agree that an action was unwarranted or unnecessarily endangered a patient, malpractice has occurred.
Common types of medical malpractice
Medical malpractice is a broad term that covers any number of incidents. Some of the most common forms of medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis. A misdiagnosis, or worse, the failure to diagnose an injury or medical condition can lead to unnecessary pain and suffering. This pain can affect every surrounding a patient and lead to a decrease in the quality of life. Sometimes, errors cannot be fully corrected if too much time has passed.
- Prescription and medication errors. From dosage errors to illegible handwriting, medication errors cause thousands of deaths every year, and even more injuries. Nurses, doctors and pharmacists may be held accountable for a medication error.
- Emergency room errors. Emergency rooms can be chaotic places, but that does not mean the healthcare workers are exempt from the standard of care. Ignoring patients, misdiagnosing them, misreading their charts – all of these can cause irreparable harm to a patient.
- Surgery errors. From anesthesia mistakes to amputation errors to performing an operation despite open and obvious signs of risk to the patient, a surgical mistake can cause permanent damage to a patient. A doctor who performs a procedure in the attempt to save a person’s life but fails to do so may not be guilty of malpractice, but a surgeon who operates under the influence – even if the surgery goes perfectly – is absolutely guilty.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect. Caring for aging loved ones can be difficult and time-consuming. We often turn to long-term care facilities to provide for our loved ones, so it is doubly devastating to learn that your loved one has been abused or neglected by trusted professionals. Elder abuse or neglect is the failure of a healthcare professional to observe physical, behavioral, or emotional changes in a patient indicative of a problem.
While this list is hardly comprehensive, it does provide a concise idea of medical malpractice; namely, that malpractice is a failure on behalf of a healthcare worker or professional to provide an adequate level of care for you or someone you know. If you believe that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, please contact Crandall & Pera Law for a free consultation at one of our many offices throughout Ohio and Kentucky.