When we seek medical attention, we trust that we are in good hands and will receive a high standard of care. Usually this is the case, but occasionally a healthcare professional breaches this obligation. If this happens, it can have devastating consequences.
It is important to remember that not every instance of being unhappy with a doctor constitutes medical malpractice. Rather, medical malpractice occurs when an error made by a healthcare professional results in the injury or death of a patient. If you feel that the error of a medical professional has caused injury to you, or injury or death to a loved one, a knowledgeable Florida personal injury lawyer can help you assess your options. If they believe your case is valid, you may be able to fight for compensation.
Top Reasons for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Missed or Delayed Diagnosis. Missed or delayed diagnoses make up some of the most common medical malpractice suits. In these cases, a healthcare provider misdiagnoses an illness, or does not diagnose the illness in time for medical intervention to prevent injury or the death of the patient.
The most common illnesses in missed or delayed diagnosis suits are cancer and heart disease, and the most common consequence is death of the patient. This is common in part because the symptoms of these illnesses are most often due to benign causes.
For example, chest pain and discomfort, the primary symptom of heart disease, is most often due to indigestion, anxiety, or other benign causes. Similarly, most masses are not malignant tumors, but instead are benign growths. Therefore, physicians are sometimes hesitant to send patients with these symptoms for further testing.
However, if you are concerned about your symptoms, trust your instincts. Don’t be afraid to be persistent in asking that your doctor further investigate any worrying symptoms you are experiencing, and encourage your loved ones to do the same. If you feel that a diagnostic error has harmed you or a loved one, seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney.
Medication Errors. Medication errors are another common cause of medical malpractice suits. Victims of medication errors are given the incorrect drug or dosage, medications they are known to be allergic to, dangerously interacting drugs, or drugs that are otherwise harmful. Some of the most common medications involved in medication error malpractice suits are steroid preparations, antibiotics, anticoagulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of health care providers. Many times patients don’t want to offend providers by asking questions and double-checking their medications. However, you always have a right to know what medications you’re being given and why, and if there are any associated risks.
Anesthesia Errors. Anesthesia errors have grievous consequences. As such, they are a common cause of medical malpractice suits. The most common cause of harmful anesthesia errors is a failure to investigate the patient’s medical history for complications and potential adverse reactions. Other common causes for anesthesia errors include failing to inform the patient of necessary preoperative procedures, overdose, failing to monitor the patient’s vital signs while anesthetized, improper intubation of the esophagus, or the use of ineffective equipment.
If you or a loved one will be anesthetized for a surgery or other procedure, be sure to double-check with your provider regarding when you should cease eating and drinking, or if you should discontinue any of your medications prior to the procedure. Also don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding your existing health conditions, and whether any of these conditions pose any risk.
Childbirth Injuries. Childbirth injuries encompass any injury to the mother or unborn baby during pregnancy or delivery. Many times these injuries are unavoidable, but sometimes they occur due to physician error. In these cases, the physician may have chosen an inappropriate treatment, or may have made a technical error before or during childbirth.
If you or a loved one has been affected by childbirth injury, it can be difficult to make sense of such a tragic occurrence. If you feel in any way that this injury could have been preventable, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine if all protocols were followed appropriately, and if your provider could be held liable.
Surgical Errors. A surgical error is a preventable mistake that occurs during surgery. This may or may not cause harm to the patient. If it does cause harm, the surgeon may be held liable under certain circumstances. To win a surgical error medical malpractice claim, you will need to prove that the surgeon made an error that falls outside of the medical standard of care, and that the error in question caused harm to the patient.
Do not wait to get in contact with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The sooner you have a qualified professional on your side, the more likely you are to have a positive outcome.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.