No one wants to believe that a physician or healthcare provider could cause, whether through a negligent act or failure to treat, injury or death to a patient. Yet, personal injury can arise from medical malpractice in a number of ways, including childbirth errors, poor documentation, inadequate safety procedures, failure to obtain informed consent, insufficient medical training, hospital acquired infections, surgical errors, emotional damages, and wrongful death.
Unfortunately, such scenarios happen far more often than most would like to think. Worse, the aftereffects can have a severe and negative physical, emotional and financial impact on a patient—often for a lifetime.
How Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
In addition to the above list, there are a myriad of other ways medical malpractice could lead to serious personal injury. Some of the most common reasons behind a medical malpractice lawsuit include misdiagnosis, surgical, anesthesia, and prescription errors:
Misdiagnosis/Failure to Diagnose a Condition
A physician may incorrectly read an image study or biopsy. Follow-up tests that could have confirmed the presence of a serious condition might go unrequested. Conversely, an incorrect diagnosis can result in avoidable, invasive treatment not medically necessary. At its worst, a misdiagnosed patient may receive a delayed diagnosis, allowing the disease to progress to such physical disfigurements as amputations or even to the terminal stage.
- Misinterpretation of MRI results, mammograms or x-rays
- Failing to recognize heart attack symptoms
- Unreasonable delay in diagnostic test ordering
- Failing to diagnose bacterial infection or sepsis
- Failure to diagnose cancer
- Delayed diagnosis of cancer
- Mishandling, reading or interpreting of specimens
- Negligence in not recommending a C-section
- Misdiagnosis of stroke symptoms, spinal injury, concussions, or traumatic brain injury
A surgeon may cause avoidable injury or death if a mistake is made related to a surgical procedure. They may not follow proper sanitation protocols, leading to a dangerous infection caused by cross-contaminated surgical tools. The surgery itself may be unnecessary, potentially stemming from an initial misdiagnosis. Permanent damage to internal organs or even death can result from serious errors. For example, patients undergoing a gallbladder removal surgery, or laparoscopic cholecystectomy, can suffer a common bile duct injury if the surgeon is negligent in performing the procedure. This type of surgical error can lead to a bile leak that, if undetected, can cause death. If a bile leak after a gallbladder removal is detected, complicated repair procedures may be required to save the patient's life.
Common Surgical Errors
- Performing surgery with cross-contaminated surgical tools
- Leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient’s body
- Puncturing or perforating nearby organs during surgery
- Operating at the wrong surgical site, such as amputating the wrong limb
- Performing an unnecessary or preventable surgery
If you ask any mother about some of the best days of her life, she will likely say it was the day her children were born. However, this joyous occasion can turn into a painful experience when negligent doctors fail to protect the mother and baby during a birth. One of the most common birth injuries occurs when, frequently during a prolonged labor, the baby begins to show signs of fetal distress, but doctors fail to order a cesarean section. Fetal distress in the womb can signal hypoxic ischemia, or lack of oxygen to the brain. Unfortunately, babies who suffer hypoxic ischemia before birth are at a high risk of brain damage and related conditions such as cerebral palsy of spastic quadriplegia. These lifelong brain injuries can be devastating for the family and the child, and can typically be avoided if doctors meet the standard of care in childbirth.
Mothers are also at risk of suffering during and after childbirth if their medical providers fail to identify critical conditions. For example, peripartum cardiomyopathy can cause heart attacks in women even months after the birth of a child. If this condition is detected and treated, devastating injuries including brain damage and death can be prevented.
Anesthesia, while essential for patients to not feel pain during procedures, comes with its own set of serious risks. Anesthesiologists are required to provide a high level of professional care to avoid potentially devastating consequences that result from anesthesia errors. When causing these errors, the doctor may delay the delivery of anesthesia, causing unnecessary pain to the patient. They may also fail to identify an allergy to anesthesia, which can lead to a deadly allergic reaction.
Common Anesthesia Errors
- Administering an incorrect amount of anesthesia—too little can result in anesthesia awareness, which occurs when a patient is unable to communicate but feels pain during the procedure. Too much anesthesia, on the other hand, can lead to respiratory distress, hypothermia, brain injuries, and death.
- Failing to recognize adverse drug reactions between anesthesia and other medications that the patient is taking.
- Improperly monitoring a patient under anesthesia
- Not providing proper instructions to patients before or after administering anesthesia.
- Using defective medical equipment while administering anesthesia
Medication errors are preventable events that can cause serious harm or death to a patient. These errors can stem from a medical professional’s lack of adequate knowledge about a particular medication, over or underdosing a patient, or failing to consider interactions with other drugs. They can also be a result of poor communication between the doctor and patient or between a team of medical professionals working on the same patient.
Common Prescription Errors
- Underusing, overusing, or misusing a medical intervention.
- Giving an incorrect dose of a medication that causes unnecessary harm.
- Failing to identify adverse drug interactions with current medications (prescribed or over-the-counter) that the patient is taking.
- Oversights caused by inadequate record-taking on medical interventions.
- Failing to document medication allergies.
Was There Additional Harm?
Medical malpractice cases are serious, as the patient is often worse off than if they had been properly treated from the start—mistakes made by a doctor can have unwanted side effects while precious time is lost in providing appropriate treatment. It is difficult enough for a patient to confront a major illness; the personal injury resulting from medical malpractice can often compound the pain and suffering. For these reasons, delayed or incorrect treatment due to a healthcare professional’s malpractice may be legal grounds for restitution.
We Are There for You
At Egerton Law, our attorneys bring decades of experience and know-how to your case. Established in 1956, our firm has built its reputation on the valued idea of bringing families justice in their times of greatest need. We are experts at investigating and presenting your claims for negligent medical malpractice, allowing you to receive the maximum restitution entitled under the law.
If you believe that you or a family member has been a victim of malpractice by a healthcare professional, call us. Our attorneys are well versed in the law pertaining to medical malpractice, and we routinely deal with healthcare experts that can aid us in evaluating your case.
Call Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Help
The skilled and compassionate lawyers at Egerton Law will help you recover the damages you legally deserve. We understand you are anxious about your future and want answers to your legal questions. Call us at 800-800-4529 and speak directly with a lawyer. Whether we settle your case or go to trial, you won't pay us anything unless you recover damages.
Egerton Law represents clients throughout the state of North Carolina including: Guilford County, Forsyth County, Randolph County, Rockingham County, Montgomery County, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, Asheboro, Kernersville, Burlington, Graham, Mebane, Thomasville, Denton, Eden, Reidsville, Salisbury, Walkertown, Belews Creek, Clemmons, Jamestown, Randleman, Madison, Siler City, Climax and Elon.