Mistakes happen in any profession, but when it comes to healthcare, even small errors can have serious consequences. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional acts negligently and causes injury to a patient. Some of the most common med mal injuries arise from misdiagnoses, surgical mistakes, medication errors and inadequate informed consent. Patients may not even realize an error occurred.
One of the top reasons patients file malpractice claims is because of a misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis due to delayed testing. Diseases such as cancer may progress unchecked for months or years if diagnostic errors are not caught in time. Patients suffer greatly when wrong diagnoses lead to delayed or improper treatment. In fact, diagnostic errors lead to nearly 800,000 fatalities or instances of permanent disability each year.
Even skilled surgeons sometimes make serious operative mistakes such as puncturing organs, leaving foreign objects inside patients, amputating the wrong limb or operating on the wrong site. Surgical errors often result in additional surgeries, lifelong disabilities or death.
Dispensing errors, improper dosing and drug interactions cause grave harm in hospitals. Medication errors include giving a patient the wrong drug or administering a drug via the wrong route.
Inadequate informed consent
Doctors have a legal duty to provide sufficient information for patients to make informed decisions about procedures and treatment. Failing to fully explain the risks, alternatives and likelihood of success can constitute malpractice if a patient suffers an injury. Patients must give consent based on a full explanation of potential outcomes.
Being aware of the possibility of malpractice empowers patients to be vigilant and advocate for their own safety. Speaking up when you have concerns and asking questions protects your health.