Medical malpractice cases can be big news, but these cases run the gamut from minor injuries to permanent injuries to death. What is medical malpractice? It’s a mistake, often called medical negligence, made by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional that results in a patient’s injury. Doctors and medical facilities maintain malpractice insurance policies to pay for these mistakes, and patients can file lawsuits against the doctor and medical facility or hospital to receive money for the injuries.
The most obvious type of medical malpractice is a mistake made during surgery. This famously happened to comedian and former Saturday Night Live star, Dana Carvey. He had a blocked artery to his heart, but the surgeon ended up operating on the wrong artery. This meant that Carvey had to undergo a second surgery. In this high profile medical malpractice case, Carvey was awarded $7.5 million.
Other surgical mistakes could lead to infection, paralysis, accidentally cutting a vital organ, or leaving a foreign object inside the patient’s body. Surgical mistakes are only one type of medical malpractice, however. These cases can involve any number of mistakes, such as:
Misdiagnosis – A doctor may inaccurately determine that a patient has one condition or disease when it is later discovered that the patient had a different condition or disease. If the real disease goes untreated, it can lead to injury or death. A misdiagnosis may also lead the doctor to prescribe the wrong medications or unnecessary surgery, which can cause injury to the patient.
Delayed diagnosis – In this case, the physician fails to determine that the patient has a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease. Obviously, if the person isn’t treated because the doctor failed to recognize the illness, it could lead to injury or death. A delay can also occur if someone is forced to wait in an emergency room for too long, for example.
Anesthesia Mistakes – Anesthesiologists are responsible for the medication that causes a patient to sleep during a medical procedure. Since people can be sensitive to these medications, it’s the responsibility of the anesthesiologist to review a patient’s medical history to try to ensure that the anesthesia medication won’t cause problems. If it does, the anesthesiologist and medical facility may be sued for the patient’s injuries.