What Are the Different Types of Medical Malpractice Claims?

Stethoscope and Gavel to represent medical malpractice law

Patients trust that when they go to the doctor or hospital in Florida, the medical care they receive will address their need and will not cause harm or allow a disease to spread undetected. Unfortunately, many patients suffer harm at the hands of doctors and hospitals through preventable medical errors.

There are many ways physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, medical technicians, or hospital staffs can deviate from the recognized standard of care and cause preventable injuries to patients. Patients who are harmed by medical negligence may have a right to file a medical malpractice claim and hold a health care provider accountable.

Medical malpractice lawsuits seek to recover compensation for the injured person’s medical expenses, lost income due to diminished earning capacity, and pain and suffering. The dedicated Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Chiumento Law, PLLC fight for the rights of injured patients who have been seriously injured due to medical negligence.

 Failure to Diagnose Claims

A misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a serious medical condition may result in a patient not receiving proper treatment in a timely manner. The patient may receive no treatment or improper treatment to manage a disease. A doctor may fail to order the proper tests to make a correct diagnosis. If a proper diagnosis is eventually made, the patient may require more invasive treatment, which might have been avoided with an earlier diagnosis. In cases of potentially terminal disease, such as cancer, timely diagnosis and treatment are essential to manage the disease while it still responds to treatment.

Failure-to-diagnose claims often stem from emergency room visits, where nurses and/or doctors rush through the basics of asking about symptoms and obtaining medical histories, or because of miscommunication among care providers.

A Johns Hopkins Medical School study says diagnostic errors account for the most severe patient harm, the largest portion of malpractice claims and the highest payouts. Diagnostic errors resulted in death or disability almost twice as often as other types of medical error, the researchers said.

Medication Error Claims

Medication errors may include prescribing or administering the wrong medication, errors in dosage, errors that result in harmful drug interactions, missed doses, and administering medication at the wrong time. A medication error that reaches the patient and causes any degree of harm is known as a preventable adverse drug event (ADE). A nonpreventable ADE is considered an unanticipated side effect.

Adverse drug reactions are among the most common preventable adverse events in all settings of care, mostly because of the widespread availability of prescription and nonprescription medications, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) says. Nearly 5 percent of hospitalized patients experience an ADE, making them one of the most common types of inpatient errors. Changing from one doctor to another creates a higher risk of medication error, as well. The AHRQ adds that outpatients experience adverse drug reactions at even higher rates, as illustrated by the dramatic increase in deaths due to opioid medications, which has largely taken place outside the hospital.

Elderly patients and children are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of medication errors than younger adults because their lighter weight magnifies the impact of drug dosages. Elderly patients also tend to take more medications, heightening the risk of error, including adverse drug interactions.

Surgical Malpractice Claims

Any member of a surgical team including surgeons, anesthesiologists and operating room nurses may cause a preventable error and be the subject of a surgical malpractice claim. Sometimes, the procedures that surgical teams operate under create an environment more likely to lead to errors.

It is far more common than most people realize for a surgeon to operate on the wrong body part, perform the wrong procedure or leave instruments or medical supplies (gauze, sponges, etc.) inside a patient’s body. In other cases, a surgeon may injure an organ adjacent to the surgery site or use non-sterile surgical instruments and cause infection. An anesthesiologist might administer an incorrect amount of anesthesia, or nurses may fail to adequately monitor a patient after surgery.

Birth Injury Claims

A birth injury malpractice claim may be based on avoidable harm suffered by a baby or mother during pregnancy, during labor or delivery, or in post-natal care just after birth. Examples of medical errors that can cause serious birth injuries include improper use of forceps or vacuum devices, failure to monitor fetal heart rate, failure to order a Cesarean section in a timely manner, and failure to diagnose a health problem in the mother.

Fortunately, birth injuries are rare, with the AHRQ citing a fall in neonatal birth trauma injury rates from 2.6 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 1.9 per 1,000 live births in 2013. When they do happen, common birth injuries include cerebral palsy, which typically occurs when the child is deprived of oxygen during labor or suffers head trauma; nerve and spinal cord damage, fractures, and bruising to the child from rough handling; and failure to recognize and/or correctly repair an expectant mother’s ruptured uterus or a new mother’s perineal tear.

Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are infections that patients get while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions. HAIs occur in a variety of health care facilities settings including hospitals, surgical centers, ambulatory clinics, and long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. Becker’s Healthcare says anyone admitted to a hospital has a 5 percent chance of contracting an HAI, and nearly 99,000 people die in the United States annually from HAIs — more than from breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Failure to follow procedures established to prevent the spread of infections as well as failure to diagnose, treat or manage an infection may constitute medical negligence. Individual medical care providers, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, physicians, nurses as well as other staff, and the hospital itself might be held liable in a claim.

Contact our Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers

Medical malpractice cases are complex and health care providers will fight to protect their reputations. However, it is proper to ask questions about any medical treatment that resulted in significant injury or a death that was unexpected.

The compassionate Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Chiumento Law, PLLC will meet with you at no charge to hear about your adverse medical experience and examine the particulars of your case. If we can move forward with a claim for you, we will do so at no charge, unless and until we recover compensation for you.

Contact us today online or at our Palm Coast and Deland, FL, offices to get started on your case.

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