Mistakes happen, even in the medical profession. As much as patients would like to believe their doctors and nurses are infallible, unfortunately errors do occur across the medical profession. Those errors can have lasting consequences for the victims.
Sometimes, those mistakes mean lifelong limitations. Other times, as in the case of a Miami patient with a broken ankle, they result in death. When Maria Fernandez’s doctors failed to adequately follow through on her treatment plan, she ultimately died due to ongoing complications. While doctors and nurses are every bit as human as anyone else and can make mistakes like anyone else, sometimes their mistakes have severe consequences.
Common Errors Made by Hospitals
In a hospital setting, medical errors can occur quickly. Common errors include:
Medication errors. Hospital personnel may prescribe the wrong medication or give the wrong amount of a medication in error.
Anesthesia errors. Even minor shifts in dosage can cause serious complications during surgery.
Infections acquired in hospitals. Hospitals are often filled with germs. Sometimes, patients end up with serious infections due to inadequate hygiene practices during surgery, during treatment, or while patients are in the hospital.
Inadequate staffing. Many nurses spend their shifts overworked and overstressed, which can lead to a substantially increased risk of medical errors. Nurses might also lack the ability to pay adequate attention to all the patients in their care during each shift.
Poor communication. Adequate charting can help keep everyone involved in a specific patient’s care aware of everything the patient needs, including any specific medical concerns, allergies, or challenges. Inadequate communication, however, can leave doctors and nurses unaware of the patient’s real needs.
Technical failures. Sometimes, the equipment used by the hospital fails. In the case of vital, life-saving equipment, this can cause long-term complications for patients in the hospital during that failure.
Incorrect diagnosis. Doctors, even when presented with all available information about a patient’s condition, may fail to adequately and accurately diagnose the patient.
The Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical caregiver mistakenly or negligently offers care that causes harm to the patient. The most common medical malpractice errors include:
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.
A misdiagnosis can leave patients struggling through treatment that causes more harm than good. Failure to diagnose a patient’s condition means that the patient will not receive treatment for an illness or injury, which can cause the patient to suffer ongoing effects and the worsening of symptoms over time. Misdiagnosis of a patient’s condition means that the patient will also not receive treatment for their illness or injury because the patient receives treatment for a disease they do not have. This means that, in addition to continuing to suffer from the condition that is going untreated, they will also suffer the symptoms of that treatment, too.
Doctors, rushing to complete an interaction with a patient or to get to the next patient, may cause prescription errors in several ways. They may:
- Prescribe a medication to which the patient has known allergies
- Prescribe the wrong medication to treat a specific challenge
- Prescribe a medication known to interact poorly with the patient’s other medications
- Prescribe a medication at a too-high dosage
Errors during childbirth.
Both mother and child can experience extreme damage during childbirth. Doctors may wait too long to address a potential medical problem or might force interventions that cause more serious injuries to mother or child than intended.
Anesthesia and surgical errors.
Anesthesia and surgical errors can create severe complications. Too much anesthesia can lead to death, while inadequate anesthesia can cause a patient to wake up sooner than anticipated. Surgeons may also commit errors as they work on their patients, including:
- Leaving materials behind in the body
- Operating on the wrong area of the body
- Causing more damage through treatment
- Failing to properly monitor patient vital signs or other complications during surgery
Failing to properly monitor patients following surgery to ensure that they suffer no complications, as in this case concerning a plastic surgeon
When are Medical Mistakes Considered Medical Malpractice?
Errors can happen in the blink of an eye, often due to no particular fault of any one care provider. Sometimes, however, those errors cause serious complications for the victim. In order to file a medical malpractice claim, you will need to consider several key elements.
You had a relationship as a patient with the doctor who committed malpractice against you. You cannot file a malpractice claim against a doctor with whom you had no doctor/patient relationship or who was not involved in your treatment. For example, if you routinely saw one member of a practice, you cannot file a medical malpractice claim against another doctor in the practice if your doctor committed malpractice.
Your doctor or caregiver committed an act of negligence. Doctors take an oath to harm none when they accept their medical licenses. They must also provide a high standard of care for their patients. When a doctor commits a negligent act, from failing to properly inform a patient of potential side effects of a medication or procedure to failing to provide proper care for a patient, that patient has grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
You suffered harm as a result of the medical caregiver’s act of negligence. A nurse who discovers an inaccurate medication prescription before putting it in the IV prevents medical malpractice: no harm was done to the patient, so there is no reason for a claim. Likewise, a doctor who catches a mistake, such as starting to operate on the wrong organ, does not actively commit medical malpractice. On the other hand, if the doctor or nurse does not catch these mistakes or catches them too late and the patient suffers harm as a result, medical malpractice does exist.
If you suffered medical malpractice for any of these reasons, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Contact a Miami medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights following an incident of medical malpractice in the Miami area.