Common Types of Medical Malpractice

There are many ways in which a medical malpractice claim might arise. Ultimately, it is any situation where a medical practitioner fails to provide a reasonable standard of care, in turn causing the patient to suffer avoidable harm. Common types of medical malpractice include:

  • Delay in diagnosis
  • Wrong diagnosis/treatment
  • Medication errors
  • Surgery/anaesthesia errors
  • Birth injuries
  • Failure to obtain informed consent

We’ve explored each of these in turn below.

Delay in diagnosis

There are times when a patient presents to a medical setting complaining of certain symptoms, yet medical practitioners fail to make a diagnosis in a timely fashion. Although a correct diagnosis is eventually obtained, the delay may cause the patient to suffer serious harm. This is particularly true in an emergency context, where the patient’s condition may become critical within a matter of hours. A delayed diagnosis of cancer can also be problematic, as it will give the cancer time to grow and potentially spread.

Wrong diagnosis/treatment

Alternatively, it may be that doctors wrongly diagnose the patient’s condition, and subsequently provide the wrong treatment. The patient will not see an improvement in symptoms, causing them a prolonged period of pain and suffering. The treatment may also be completely unnecessary, causing additional injuries. This is often seen where a patient is wrongly diagnosed with cancer and so undergoes surgery, after which it is discovered that the patient never had cancer in the first place.

Medication errors

Medication errors can be made by nurses, doctors and pharmacists. It happens when a patient is either prescribed the wrong medication, or given the wrong dose of medication. It could be that a patient should not be given a particular drug because he/she is allergic to it, it is unsafe, or it would not mix well with other medications. Medical practitioners should check a patient’s history to ensure these kinds of mistakes don’t happen. The wrong dose may be administered due to miscommunication or human error.

Surgery/anaesthesia errors

Surgical procedures always carry risks. However, if a patient suffers injuries because the surgeon/anaesthesiologist failed to act with the necessary care and attention, then it could amount to negligence. Common surgical/anaesthesia errors include:

  • Leaving objects inside a patient
  • Damaging internal organs and failing to detect/repair the damage
  • Giving too much or too little anaesthetic
  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Amputating the wrong limb

Birth injuries

Birth injuries can affect both the mother and the child. With regard to the mother, these claims usually arise because the patient has sustained an injury during childbirth, but the injury has not been diagnosed and repaired. Alternatively, it could be that the birth is poorly managed. This can lead to catastrophic injuries, particularly for the baby who may develop long-lasting or fatal complications. Common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, hypoxia, paralysis and brachial plexus.

Failure to obtain informed consent

Medical practitioners must get informed consent from you, before providing treatment or carrying out a procedure. This means you must be told about the potential risks first. Otherwise, you are not in full possession of the facts, meaning you have not given your informed consent. If medical practitioners fail to warn you of the risks and you do suffer complications, then you may have grounds for a claim on the basis that you didn’t provide informed consent.

Other examples of medical malpractice

These are just some of the most common examples of medical malpractice. There are plenty of other ways in which a medical malpractice claim might arise. If you think you have been subject to poor medical care – or your loved one has – we recommend that you speak to our lawyers. We can confirm whether you are entitled to pursue legal action for compensation.

To speak to our Vancouver medical malpractice lawyers, either fill in the free online enquiry form or call us on 604 684 0040.

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