Seven Common Medical Malpractice Issues

A 2022 article by StatPearls Publishing estimates that 400,000 hospitalized Americans suffer preventable harm each year and 100,000 of them die from medical errors. There are many different types of mistakes that doctors and care providers can make that lead to such deaths or serious injuries. Patients coping with medical malpractice can also face a wide variety of challenges. However, seven issues that tend to arise again and again in medical malpractice cases in Florida and across the country are:

1. Anesthesia Errors 

Anesthesia is used to temporarily block sensory perception, motor transmission and nerve transmission. It can be administered locally (in the area to be numbed), regionally (in a large part of the body) or generally (rendering you temporarily unconscious). Because the drugs used for anesthesia impact communication between the body/nerves and the brain, anesthesia must be administered correctly.

Unfortunately, anesthesia mistakes are made all too often. In 2022, Scientific Reports published a 15-year analysis of medication errors in US operations, finding that 86 percent of those errors occurred in providing general anesthesia.

Anesthesiologists can be distracted by visual and auditory cues. They may miss important signals that a patient is in distress. They can also administer the wrong dose or wrong type of anesthesia – often with deadly results.

2. Surgical Errors 

Surgeons have enormous responsibility in all aspects of operating on patients, from carefully monitoring patients for complications during surgery to ensuring that operating rooms are sterile and procedures are performed correctly. Unfortunately, 4,000 surgical errors happen in the US each year, reports StatPearls, and among the most common mistakes is operating on the wrong body part.

Surgeons can make a number of other errors such as accidentally nicking or damaging vital organs, or leaving surgical towels or tools inside the patient. In a number of cases, surgeons have even operated on the wrong patient. These grievous mistakes are dubbed “never events” — they should never occur. They are unequivocal examples of negligence with potentially deadly results.

3. Emergency Room Errors 

Emergency room doctors are expected to be able to respond to a wide variety of serious medical issues. They must be able to provide effective medical care in a fast-paced and stressful environment. But ER doctors can make many mistakes. These errors range from incorrectly diagnosing patients to prescribing the wrong medical treatment.

ER mistakes can happen because doctors are tired or overworked in understaffed hospitals, and make mistakes in decision-making. Scientific literature show that in emergency departments, doctors may receive the right information but fail to act on it in the best medical way.

4. Diagnostic Errors 

One of the most basic and fundamental purposes of doctors and other healthcare providers is to diagnose and treat illness. But doctors can misdiagnose patients. They may diagnose patients with the wrong disease or with ailments they don’t have. In some cases, they may fail to see symptoms that indicate a serious medical problem. Diagnostic errors also include misreading tests, missing symptoms and coming to the wrong conclusion.

These mistakes are all too common. A 2022 review by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealed that in emergency departments alone, 7.4 million patients are misdiagnosed each year. Among them, 370,000 suffer serious harm due to the diagnostic error.

A variety of patient harms can result from negligent diagnoses. For instance, failure to diagnose a blood clot, brain bleeding, or other serious medical issues could also have immediate and potentially fatal consequences for the patients whose doctor let him down. A delayed diagnosis of cancer can significantly reduce the potential of cure for the patient.

5. Childbirth Injuries 

According to the Textbook of Clinical Pediatrics, about 2.6 percent of births in the US involve a form of neonatal injury or injury to the newborn. That’s over 95,000 babies every year.

Among the most prevalent birth injuries to infants are clavicle fractures (broken collarbone), facial nerve injuries, brachial plexus injuries (nerve damage near the neck), shoulder dystocia, cerebral hemorrhage, brain damage, and cerebral palsy.

Childbirth injuries can occur when a doctor fails to provide proper prenatal care or screening, when a doctor misses problems prior to birth, such as preeclampsia or a breech baby or when the doctor does something wrong during the birthing process. For example, doctors may miss signs of fetal distress and/or unreasonably delay a Caesarean section, putting the child at risk. Doctors may also damage a baby with the aggressive use of forceps or a vacuum.

6. Expensive Medical Care Costs 

Getting medical care in the United States is expensive. There is no arguing that fact. The 2022 Gallup poll found that 29 percent of Americans have forgone medical care for financial reasons. Even for those with excellent insurance policies, not every type of treatment is going to be covered. You may be faced with co-pays or out-of-pocket expenses that your insurance won’t pay.

If you have suffered a serious illness or injury that directly resulted from your doctor’s malpractice, that illness or injury could cripple you financially as well as physically, especially if you need emergency care or lifetime care. This should never happen.

7. Challenges in Proving Malpractice Cases 

Proving medical malpractice is always difficult. These cases center around technical and complex facts. For instance, you have to establish that the doctor fell short of providing reasonable care and whether this negligence served as the actual cause of injury.

Additionally, the healthcare provider can raise defenses. One of the most commonly asserted defenses is the assumption of risk. The healthcare provider may argue that the patient had been fully informed about and accepted all known risks and consequences of a certain procedure or treatment. This defense can be challenged by looking at whether the specific risk was disclosed to the patient and in other ways.

Another controversial aspect of Florida medical malpractice law is that if someone dies as the result of medical malpractice, and there is no surviving spouse or child under age 25 (see the definition of “child children under Section 768.18(2) of the Florida Code), then there is no one who can bring a claim on behalf of the deceased.

Things are even more complex for plaintiffs with the enactment of a new “tort reform” bill. This new bill now requires any out-of-state expert witness to become certified as an expert witness by an accrediting state board. The state’s informed-consent laws can also affect a patient’s ability to claim malpractice. A Florida lawyer can help one to navigate this legal landscape.

A Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Assist You 

Understanding these issues can be overwhelming, especially for patients coping with medical challenges caused by malpractice. Because of the significant complications in malpractice cases, many victims turn to legal professionals to deal with the issues and to handle the claim on their behalf.

At Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, we can help you when your doctor has made a medical mistake and work hard to make sure you and your family to obtain the compensation you need and deserve. To learn more and schedule a free consultation, call us today at our toll-free number or use our online form.

We serve victims of medical malpractice throughout South Florida and have offices in Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, Okeechobee, Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach.


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