When you think of medical professionals, it’s easy to fall prey to the illusion of perfection. After all, it’s no secret that medical professionals, like physicians and surgeons, spend more than a decade mastering their practice. To the average individual, decades of studying and working in the medical profession are equal to infallibility and reliability.
Most of the time, this assumption is correct.
Nevertheless, every now and then, a physician prescribes the wrong medication. In some cases, the oversight of a physician results in childbirth injuries or anesthesia errors. Sometimes, even the most seasoned of physicians can commit the most egregious of errors when performing surgery.
These are just a few examples of medical malpractice. Medical negligence or medical malpractice can have catastrophic consequences for patients. Negligence often causes serious harm, and at their worst, medical negligence and medical malpractice can lead to the deaths of patients.
If you or someone you know has sustained an injury at the hands of a physician, you can file a medical malpractice claim. Call our personal injury lawyers in New York and New Jersey for a free case evaluation if you have suffered from any of the examples of medical malpractice in this list.
However, before we discuss the types of medical negligence, let’s clarify what falls under the umbrella term of “medical malpractice” in New York.
What Is Considered Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice, also known as medical negligence, is an error of both omission and commission. This means that both inaction and incorrect action can constitute medical malpractice.
A physician or healthcare professional can commit medical malpractice by not acting or failing to act. For instance, when a patient dies as a result of a physician ignoring their complaints of difficulty breathing, the patient’s surviving family can file a medical malpractice case.
Meanwhile, medical negligence can also occur as a result of errors. For instance, if a medical professional commits a medication error or renders treatment to the wrong patient, this can also constitute medical malpractice.
In both examples of medical malpractice, the doctor fails at rendering treatment based on established medical standards of care. Any failure to act based on the said standards of care will render a medical professional liable for medical negligence.
What Are the Conditions for a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In New York, there are three conditions for a victim or the victim’s family member to file a medical negligence claim.
Here are the following characteristics of medical malpractice lawsuits you need to look out for:
In all medical malpractice cases, there must be evidence of an error. Mistakes can come in the form of medication errors, incorrect procedures while performing surgery, or even inaccurate data on a patient’s medical record.
Any medical error constitutes a failure to adhere to medical standards. When there is evidence of this, a medical malpractice claim is worth pursuing.
Injury Occurs due to the Error
A malpractice suit is also viable if an injury resulted from a physician’s erroneous treatment. Medical staff can also be held liable for any gross negligence leading to injury or harm caused.
To pursue a claim, victims should prove that they would not have sustained injuries had the error not occurred. They can do so with the counsel of a medical malpractice attorney.
Damages are not necessarily injuries; rather, damages refer to the consequences resulting from an injury.
Under this definition, damages can include pain and suffering, debilitation, or disability. Any result of medical negligence and injuries can entitle people to pursue medical malpractice lawsuits.
The 10 Most Common Types of Medical Negligence
Now that you have a better grasp of what medical negligence is and the conditions necessary to file a malpractice suit, let’s look into different types of negligence. Below are the most common types of medical malpractice cases in New York:
1. Nursing Home Negligence
The New York Department of Health has received thousands of reports involving nursing home abuse and neglect. The number of reports shows an unfortunate prevalence of nursing home abuse and neglect in the state.
Nursing home negligence or neglect occurs whenever a resident does not receive adequate and reasonable care in a long-term care facility. The failure to render care can result in an elderly resident’s injuries.
Injuries are not the only sign of nursing home negligence. Nursing home neglect can also manifest as care deficits. In other words, when an elderly resident shows signs of poor hygiene, nutritional status, or mobility, these may indicate failure on the part of the facility to meet their care standards.
The signs of nursing home negligence are not always easy to spot. However, some of the most common signs of neglect include bedsores and bruises at the bony prominences. Bedsores are signs that healthcare staff does not turn or move bedridden residents. Likewise, bruises or cuts on bony prominences like elbows and knees may signal a facility’s failure to provide a safe environment.
If you have a loved one in nursing home care, be alert for signs of neglect. Call a medical malpractice lawyer if you detect or suspect nursing home neglect.
2. Childbirth Injuries
Childbirth injuries are also one of the most common reasons for malpractice suits in New York. Childbirth injuries happen when an obstetrician fails to render appropriate care to either the parent or the newborn.
First, when a physician fails to diagnose a parent’s underlying medical condition prior to childbirth, complications may arise. At times, the physician is to blame. However, the medical facility may also be liable for having faulty systems of admission and treatment.
For example, if a hospital does not have appropriate screening protocols in place, it may move the parent from the emergency room to the delivery room too quickly.
In the absence of testing procedures, the ordering obstetrician or emergency physician may carry on with delivery without testing for hemophilia or eclampsia. When the parent gives birth, they may hemorrhage, rendering the physician liable for the oversight.
The child is also susceptible to birthing injuries due to the obstetrician’s oversight or negligence. Usually, the injuries to the child will take place during delivery when the physician incorrectly maneuvers the child through the birth canal. This can lead to several injuries for the child, particularly to the shoulder and neck.
3. Surgical Errors
Surgical errors can leave lasting impairments to a patient, or even cause their death. A doctor’s failure to perform a surgery correctly can also exacerbate the condition for which the patient sought surgical intervention.
The biggest problem with surgical errors is that they are often discovered too late. It is only after the patient has left the operating room that issues tend to surface.
A wound evisceration is an example of a post-surgical complication occurring due to error. Eviscerations are instances where the organs go through the incision site. They occur due to faulty stitching or incomplete wound closures. Because it is the surgeon’s job to ensure the integrity of sutures or staples, the surgeon will be held liable for such an oversight.
Another example of a post-operative complication that appears too late is sepsis. Sepsis is a much more severe form of infection because it is systemic. It occurs when bacteria flood the bloodstream. Left untreated, sepsis can lead to life-threatening shock and brain damage.
Sepsis can occur for two reasons. Often, any sign of sepsis indicates a breach or error in infection control measures. It can also happen when surgical sponges or instruments are left inside the body after the surgeon closes the wound.
The surgeon and other doctors assisting will be liable since they are responsible for checking the surgical site throughout the surgical operation.
4. Medication Errors
The administration of medications is the cornerstone of treatment. However, when medication errors occur, the results can be deadly.
There are many forms of medication errors. The most common form is when a medical professional administers the wrong medication. The administration of incorrect medication can occur for a variety of reasons; one of them is miscommunication between a doctor and another member of the medical team.
Another kind of medication error occurs when doctors or other members of the healthcare team administer medications to the wrong patent. Administering medication to a patient who does not need it or needs a different type of medication can be dangerous. When the medication administered is a central nervous system drug or a blood thinner, the results can even be lethal.
Lastly, medication-related errors can also occur when a health care professional administers the wrong dosage to the patient. Even if the health care professional administers the right drug to the right patent, they must follow the correct dosage of the drug. The right dosage should be recorded on the patient’s chart to protect them from toxicity or overdose.
To prevent all types of medication-related negligence, every hospital requires its professionals to verify three pieces of information: doctors and nurses need to ensure that they provide the right medication to the right patient at the right dosage. Also, during a handover or referral to a different doctor, the medication history and medical records of the patient need to be disclosed by the referring physician.
5. Anesthesia Errors
Anesthesia errors are also medication-related errors. However, anesthesia errors are deadlier due to the involvement of anesthetics. Anesthesia errors can occur in the operating room or in a doctor’s office. Most of the time, mistakes occur in dosage and follow-up care.
During a surgical procedure, the anesthesiologist must properly monitor the patient. The anesthesiologist needs to know everything from the patient’s vital signs to the level of patient sedation. Any spike or drop in the heart rate or respiratory rate of the patient can signal problems with the anesthesia dosage; it could be too high or too low.
In either case, any failure on the part of the anesthesiologist to monitor the patient and provide treatment can lead to a cardiopulmonary arrest. In the same situation, death can also occur, rendering the anesthesiologist liable for negligence.
Anesthesia errors can also result in an allergic reaction mid-surgery. Allergies to anesthesia, although rare, can cause a dangerous reaction known as anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock causes the airways to swell, leading to death without proper treatment.
An allergic reaction to anesthesia is a clear sign of medical negligence, as it is a sign that the doctor failed to test the patient for allergies prior to surgery.
Following a patient’s anesthesia-related death, the family members can file a medical malpractice suit. If you have a family member who died at the hands of a negligent anesthesiologist, call us for a free consultation.
6. Incorrect or Delayed Diagnosis
A doctor can also be liable for giving the wrong diagnosis or giving a diagnosis too late. The reason for this is that the treatment of a patient depends on the findings and reports of the doctor. Without them, a patient will not receive reasonable care. In the worst-case scenario, a patient may even be at risk of injury or death due to inappropriate medical treatment.
When a doctor issues a delayed diagnosis, a patient’s condition may deteriorate. Worse yet, the patient’s condition may worsen to the point where medical treatment will be useless.
An incorrect or delayed diagnosis can also affect the insurance company providing the patient’s health coverage. The patient may stay in the hospital for a longer period following an incorrect diagnosis, resulting in larger coverage.
Hence, a doctor’s negligence in giving a diagnosis can result in a malpractice suit from either the patient or the insurance company providing the patient’s coverage.
If you are seeking medical attention and suspect that you have received an incorrect diagnosis, get the opinions of other doctors. Once another doctor diagnoses you properly and you have confirmed the erroneous diagnosis from the initial doctor, do not hesitate to call a medical malpractice lawyer for a free case evaluation.
In the case of a delayed diagnosis, you need help from a law firm. The law firm can file a malpractice case against the doctor after proving that the physician rendered substandard care. In other words, the physician must provide less-than-reasonable care that other physicians may have provided properly given the same circumstances. Once you prove this with a lawyer, you have an effective delayed diagnosis claim.
7. Hospital Infections or Infections Acquired From a Doctor’s Office
Hospitals and health care facilities in New York abound with patients. For this reason, areas that are not aseptic like the operating room or delivery room may have pathogens that can make people sick. The resulting infections from these pathogens are known to members of the medical community as nosocomial infections.
When people acquire nosocomial infections, the hospital can be liable for negligence. The reason for the liability is that hospitals and every medical professional must adhere to care standards. Part of these care standards is providing a safe environment for patients that is free from dangers or pathogens.
Hence, when a patient suffers from a hospital-acquired infection, it indicates a failure on the facility’s behalf to provide a safe and therapeutic environment. As a result, the patient can file a medical malpractice case against a hospital or the place of practice of their medical provider.
8. Dental Errors
Dentists and dental surgeons are also bound to the same standards of care that other physicians follow. Hence, when dentists or dental surgeons commit surgical errors or misdiagnose dental conditions, they can also be held liable.
Dental errors can cause severe injuries to the mouth and nearby parts of the skull. They can even lead to death if the mistake involves anesthesia.
Dental errors can come in many forms. An example of a medical malpractice case in dentistry is the incorrect removal of a tooth resulting in an injury. Improper tooth extraction can cause trauma to the gums and jaw.
Another example of a dental error is when the dentist fails to maintain sterility throughout the dental surgical procedure. Infection control is paramount during surgical procedures to protect patients from sepsis and other forms of infection.
Medical malpractice cases involving dental errors are worth pursuing due to the damages that such a mistake can cause. If you have suffered dental injuries at the hands of a negligent dentist or dental surgeon, call a lawyer. In particular, call an attorney advertising legal services in medical malpractice cases and personal injury cases.
9. Early or Premature Discharge
A doctor is in charge of a patient’s recovery throughout their stay in the hospital. Upon recovery, physicians can discharge patients from hospital care. However, sometimes, the doctor may discharge patients too early — before patients reach maximum medical improvement.
Thus, early or premature discharge is also a form of medical negligence. By releasing a patient too early from medical care, the doctor effectively allows a patient’s condition to get worse.
When the patient’s condition deteriorates outside of the hospital, the patient will have no access to care. The absence of medical care can lead to further injury or the deterioration of the patient’s condition. In the worst-case scenario, it can even lead to death.
There are a few situations that can release physicians from liability if they release patients from care before full medical improvement. One situation is when the patient decides to go home.
In this situation, a physician must have the patient sign a HAMA form (home against medical advice). In addition to the HAMA form, patients must also sign a form that states that the physician explained the risks following the patient’s decision. A nurse or another ancillary health care professional must be present as a witness.
The other situation that releases a physician from liability is when patients have reached maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement means that patients cannot recover any further, even after physicians or institutions render full care.
In such a situation, keeping patients in the hospital may do more harm than good. Hence, a physician may complete the discharge and make referrals to other physicians who can help.
10. Failure to Provide Follow-up Care
A doctor’s responsibility to treat patients may sometimes extend beyond the walls of their office or healthcare facility. This is especially true for chronic illnesses like cancer. When patients have long-term illnesses, a doctor must render follow-up care. The failure to do so is a form of medical negligence.
Legally, not rendering follow-up treatment or assessments or not arranging for it in necessary cases is a form of patient abandonment. Patient abandonment refers to the failure of physicians to terminate the therapeutic relationship between themselves and patients properly.
The abrupt termination of the therapeutic relationship can occur in two ways. As mentioned earlier, it can occur after a premature discharge. On the other hand, the failure to follow up with patients who need care is also a way to abruptly terminate the therapeutic relationship.
Do you have a condition or injury that has not recovered fully? If so, your doctor needs to remain in touch. Call us for a free case evaluation if you feel that your physician is not giving you the post-hospitalization care that you need.
Are You a Victim of Injury due to Medical Negligence? We Are Here for You
Medical negligence can result in serious harm, injury, and even death. Our experts at the Pagan Law Firm are here to fight for you if you have suffered an injury at the hands of a negligent physician or medical professional. We can also answer any legal questions you may have.
For representation that puts you first, do not hesitate to reach out. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.