The 5 Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Claims

Thousands of people in Missouri undergo medical procedures yearly. Most of the time, doctors and medical professionals meet the expected standard of care, helping patients heal and recover their health.

However, there are instances when medical providers act negligently, delivering care that falls below the expected standard. When this happens, it’s known as medical malpractice.

If you’re a victim of poor medical care, you can pursue a settlement to pay for damages like lost wages, hospital bills, and pain and suffering. Learn the most common types of medical malpractice and how a Missouri medical malpractice lawyer from Cofman Townsley can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Spotting Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many forms, from improper diagnosis to negligent care during labor and delivery. Here are the five most common types of medical malpractice and their impact on patients:

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is a common form of medical malpractice, resulting in permanent disability or death for nearly 795,000 patients in the U.S. annually. It happens when a healthcare provider incorrectly identifies a patient’s condition or takes too long to arrive at the correct diagnosis.

This may occur when a doctor overlooks critical symptoms or confuses them with those of a less serious ailment. For instance, a patient with early signs of stroke might be misdiagnosed with a migraine, or early-stage cancer symptoms might be mistaken for a less serious condition.

Delayed or incorrect diagnosis means precious time is lost, during which a disease can progress unchecked. This can lead to irreversible health deterioration, loss of bodily functions, or death for the patient.

Negligence in Treatment

Negligent medical treatment happens when healthcare providers fail to perform their medical duties at the required level of care. This can involve improperly managing a patient’s health condition, failing to follow up or monitor the patient’s progress, or neglecting to refer the patient to a specialist when needed.

Negligent medical care often reduces a patient’s quality of life, leading to physical discomfort or disability. This can impact their ability to work and cause financial and career setbacks. The ongoing struggle with health issues can strain personal relationships and mental well-being.

Prescription Drug Errors

Prescription drug errors, a critical form of medical malpractice, encompass various types of mistakes in prescribing or administering medications, including:

  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Giving the incorrect dosage
  • Failing to recognize harmful drug interactions
  • Overlooking patient allergies

Each year in the U.S., between 7,000 and 9,000 people die due to medication errors. Nearly 7 million people are impacted by these mistakes, resulting in $40 billion in annual expenses.

The consequences for patients can range from temporary health setbacks, like allergic reactions and minor side effects, to severe, life-threatening conditions, prolonged hospitalization, irreversible damage, and emotional distress.

Surgical Errors

With at least 4,000 cases a year in the United States, surgical errors are a common form of medical malpractice. These mistakes include performing the wrong surgery, making incisions in the wrong location, damaging organs or tissues, or leaving surgical instruments or foreign objects inside the patient’s body.

For example, a surgeon may operate on the wrong site, such as removing a healthy kidney instead of the diseased one. Or a surgical team might leave a sponge or instrument inside a patient, leading to serious post-operative complications.

The impact of such errors extends outside the operating room, resulting in severe infections, the need for additional surgeries, and permanent disability or chronic pain. These incidents can also inflict psychological trauma on patients, leading to prolonged recovery, loss of income, and a reduced quality of life.

Birth Injuries

Birth injuries are a heartbreaking form of medical malpractice that can affect both newborns and mothers during childbirth. These injuries can result from a healthcare provider’s failure to provide appropriate prenatal care, respond to complications during labor, or use improper delivery techniques. Common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and brain damage.

Although birth injury rates have fallen in the past few decades to 1.9 per 1000 live births in 2012, they still happen too often. For instance, brachial plexus injuries occur in about 2.5 out of every 1,000 live births, and cephalohematoma (a type of cranial hemorrhage) happens in about 2.5% of births.

Birth injuries can lead to permanent disabilities for the child, demanding extensive medical care like rehabilitation, assistive devices, and surgeries. These injuries also affect the child and their family emotionally as they deal with the financial burden and the psychological challenges of the child’s condition.

Know Your Rights After Suffering a Medical Malpractice Injury

Medical malpractice affects countless patients across Missouri and the United States, resulting in unnecessary pain and suffering. If you or a loved one has been affected by poor medical care, our experienced legal team at Cofman Townsley can hold the negligent provider responsible and help you win compensation.

We can meet with you to discuss your case, determine if medical malpractice occurred, and begin developing a case against the provider that caused you harm. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.