It is estimated that 70,000 people per year fall victim to situations considered to be medical malpractice. While the definition of this term is broad and encompasses many different things, some incidents occur a lot more than others. Below are four of the most common medical malpractice cases and how you as a patient can avoid becoming a victim of them.
Misdiagnosis is pretty self-explanatory, occurring when a doctor provides the wrong diagnosis to a patient based on a given set of symptoms. Some illnesses can share common symptoms, making it difficult for a doctor to accurately make a diagnosis. Misdiagnosis can lead to a treatment plan being formulated that will not effectively address the issue or do more harm than good. It can also result in a patient being released from care under the assumption that the condition is not serious and the person ends up enduring serious harm or dying.
To avoid being the victim of a misdiagnosis, write down each symptom you are experiencing before seeing the doctor. That way, the doctor can match your list of symptoms to possible conditions to make sure it makes sense. If a doctor gives you a definite diagnosis, do not be afraid of seeking a second opinion to confirm and make sure they look at your case from scratch so they will not be swayed by the first doctor’s assessment. If you find a misdiagnosis, speak with a medical practice lawyer right away.
2. Medication errors
Medication errors occur when a patient is given a medicine that will not treat their condition, it is the wrong dosage, or will interact with medications that the patient is already taking in a way that will cause serious harm or death. Medication errors are not restricted to the fault of doctors as pharmacists, nurses, and drug manufacturers can be held liable as well.
To avoid being a victim of a medication error, keep a list of all medications and dosages you are currently taking and confirm that the new medication is safe to take with these ones. Research the new prescription that you receive so you know the side effects and symptoms of an overdose that can occur if the dosage is wrong.
3. Surgical error
Surgical errors are common and can include puncturing organs, operating on the wrong part of the body, leaving items in the body post-operation, or negligence that results in infection or improper medications being administered afterwards. To prevent such horrendous things from happening to you, ask to have access to your medical records pre-operation so you can confirm all information is correct.
You or an advocate should also verbally confirm the procedure being performed with the doctor beforehand to guarantee accuracy. After the operation, do not ignore any signs that something is not right. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain outside of anything typical after having an operation, attend the emergency room as soon as possible.
4. Anesthesia errors
Anesthesia errors occur when a patient experiences harm due to the administration of anesthesia. This usually occurs when a patient is given too much, their vital signs are not appropriately monitored, they are not intubated properly, or if their medical history was not checked for potential complications. These errors can result in brain damage, permanent injury, or death.
Anesthesia errors are not only confined to emergency rooms but they can occur in dentist offices, pre-operation rooms, and recovery rooms. It may be difficult for you to be proactive regarding anesthesia errors as a patient because like most people you do not know what an adequate dosage would be. However, it would help to voice any concerns that you may have to the doctor or anesthesiologist and ensure you are properly monitored by medical staff post-operation.