Physicians are some of the most well-educated and trained professionals, but they’re still human and make mistakes. Even in healthcare, errors happen that have consequences, which is why medical practice liability insurance is critical for individuals and facilities.
We’ll go over some of the most common causes of malpractice lawsuits for doctors, ranging from simple mishaps to more complex mistakes.
Misdiagnosis and Delay in Diagnosis
The number one cause of malpractice lawsuits for doctors is diagnosis. Although physicians are highly trained, educated, and skilled, they sometimes get it wrong or don’t diagnose an illness quickly enough to prevent suffering or death.
Misdiagnosis is when a physician gets the diagnosis wrong—often, this occurs from not knowing the patient’s medical and family history well enough. A delayed diagnosis is when a doctor is correct in their diagnosis, but it’s too late, typically because of a delay in ordering a test or recommending a specialist.
Failure To Treat
Along with misdiagnosing a patient, sometimes a physician fails to see the injury or illness in a patient and fails to treat them, resulting in injury or death. Sometimes illness symptoms are so minor at first that they can seem like typical aches and pains any average person would have.
One example is a patient experiencing minor chest pains—it’s easy for a doctor to assume it’s simply heartburn, as most signs point toward that diagnosis. But sometimes it can be a prelude to a more severe illness; and before a physician can administer treatment, it’s too late.
Childbirth is a wondrous journey for many that goes off without a hitch, but there’s still the potential for pregnancy, labor, and delivery problems. Such problems can arise in the mother or the fetus and appear minor on the surface but belie deeper issues.
Malpractice lawsuits from childbirth injuries can include failure to perform prenatal tests, failure to execute a c-section, or the improper use of birthing tools like forceps.
Medication is an essential aspect of medical treatment, and with physicians prescribing so many medications to so many patients every day, it’s logical that someone can make a mistake occasionally. Medication errors is an umbrella term that can include many different types of mistakes, including:
- Misdiagnosis and prescription of wrong medication
- Incorrect dosage (overprescribing)
- Allergic reaction to a medication
- The patient is administered the wrong dosage/medication
Like administering medication, surgeries are something that happens every day, and even the most skilled surgeons have slip-ups. Some examples of surgical errors that have resulted in lawsuits are surprisingly simple, like:
- Leaving surgical tools inside the patient
- Performing surgery on the wrong patient
- Performing surgery on the wrong body part
It just goes to show that it’s always wise to double-check before starting your work!