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Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice

doctor discovering how he committed medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is different from other types of personal injury practice areas. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and crashes into a car, most people will understand that the driver was negligent, and the driver’s negligence, in turn, caused injuries to the car’s occupants. In a medical malpractice case, however, it can be more challenging to establish whether a doctor or other medical professional committed malpractice, and whether that malpractice caused a patient to suffer injury, illness or death. For this reason, if you have a potential medical malpractice claim, you should work with a medical malpractice lawyer who has extensive experience in this area of personal injury law.

Attorney Michael M. Wilson has both a law degree and a medical degree from Georgetown University. For more than 30 years, he has represented clients in medical malpractice cases in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and many other parts of the country. His unique combination of experience and insight helps him to investigate and litigate the highly technical legal and medical issues that medical malpractice cases present.

Here, we describe some of the most common types of medical malpractice cases that we handle at the law firm of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates. To discuss the specific facts of your case, contact us today. We can provide a free and confidential consultation.

Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose Malpractice

A doctor may miss key symptoms or warning signs. As a result, the doctor may fail to diagnose a condition such as stroke, heart attack, diabetes or cancer. In some situations, a doctor may misidentify the condition. For instance, the doctor may diagnose a patient with a condition that is significantly less serious than the patient’s actual condition. The doctor’s error can lead to completely preventable injury, illness or death. After all, many serious medical problems can be easily treated and resolved if a doctor catches them early on and starts timely treatment.

A missed diagnosis may occur for many different reasons. For instance, it may happen due to:

  • Miscommunication or lack of communication
  • Failure to order tests
  • Failure to properly perform tests
  • Misreading of test results
  • Failure to properly examine a patient
  • Failure to fully review the patient’s medical history.

At Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates, we will work diligently and skillfully to determine why a misdiagnosis may have occurred in your case and seek to hold all responsible parties accountable for the harm that you or your loved one suffered.

Delayed Diagnosis Medical Malpractice

Some patients may face a terminal disease, and they may have only a short time left to live. This reality is hard enough to accept. So, it can be horrifying to learn that it could have potentially been avoided through early detection by a qualified medical professional. In this sense, the delay in the diagnosis of a condition can be as bad as a misdiagnosis. A delayed diagnosis can mean that a patient loses the chance of being cured.

If you are in this situation, the law allows you to seek compensation for your lost potential for a recovery. For example, imagine you had a 90 percent chance of being cured if your condition had been timely diagnosed. However, due to the physician’s malpractice, your diagnosis was so delayed that your condition progressed beyond the point where medicine could cure you. The law generally allows you to seek compensation for the fact that the negligent doctor deprived you of that 90 percent chance of recovery.

Exhausted surgeons after a long operation.

Different Types of Anesthesia Errors Malpractice

When you go into surgery, doctors can administer powerful medications that will allow you to be spared of any pain. These medications fall into three general categories:

  • General anesthesia – This type of anesthesia fully sedates a patient. In other words, it puts the patient into a deep, sleep-like state. Generally, it is used in invasive procedures such as spinal surgery or open-heart surgery.
  • Regional anesthesia – An epidural is an example of this type of anesthesia. It involves the injection of medication into a space between the vertebrae in the patient’s spine. It then numbs the body below the point of the injection.
  • Local anesthesia – This type of anesthesia numbs only a small part of a patient’s body so that a doctor can perform a minimally invasive procedure.

An anesthesia error can cause excruciating pain and leave a patient with severe injury. These errors often occur to due administering the wrong dose or type of medication or the failure to:

  • Check the patient’s medical history
  • Review the patient’s diet in the period just before the procedure
  • Monitor the patient’s vital signs
  • Use the proper equipment or properly maintain the equipment.

What is Surgical Error Malpractice?

While skills and experience vary among surgeons, recognized protocols and procedures still exist, which they must follow. When doctors deviate from the proper procedure or carelessly cut corners, they can cause a patient to suffer lifelong complications or even cost the patient his or her life. For instance, many surgeons have been held accountable for surgical errors such as:

One of the most common and serious types of surgical errors involves leaving a foreign object such as a sponge or even a scalpel inside of a patient’s body. As a result, a patient may suffer infections and other complications that require extensive additional treatment.

Birth Injuries or Trauma Malpractice

The birth of a child should be a happy time for a family. However, due to the misuse of equipment, use of improper delivery techniques or the failure to properly monitor a patient, the child and/or mother may suffer serious or even fatal injuries. Common birth injuries are:

  • Fractures
  • Brachial plexus injury (resulting in Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy)
  • Caput succedaneum (swelling of the child’s scalp)
  • Cephalohematoma (pooling of blood between the child’s skull and scalp)
  • Cerebral palsy (often due to oxygen deprivation)
  • Facial paralysis (also known as Bell’s palsy)
  • Intracranial or subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Spinal cord injuries.

In many cases, birth injuries occur due to a doctor’s failure to timely perform a cesarean section, or C-section, or due to mistakes that a doctor makes while performing such a highly complex procedure.

Prescription Drug Errors Malpractice

It should come as no surprise that many pharmaceutical products carry dangerous side effects, or they may not react well with other medications. Doctors should check a patient’s vital signs, ask questions, review a patient’s medical history and perform a series of tests in order to determine whether a medication is appropriate for the patient. In addition to being careful about the prescribing of medications, doctors, nurses and other medical care professionals should be careful when they administer drugs. The administration of the wrong type or dose of medication could cause a patient to suffer devastating harm.

Common Misuse of Medical Devices

Medical providers often use specially designed instruments in their work. However, when a doctor uses the wrong medical device or uses it improperly, it can cause serious harm. Many doctors face liability because they used the incorrect tools during a surgery.  In some cases, doctors have been held responsible for injuries that they caused when they attempted to perform procedures without the necessary medical devices.

Failure to Treat Medical Problem Malpractice

When a physician or other medical professional accepts a patient, the patient should reasonably expect that the medical professional will treat his or her medical problem. When health professionals fail to treat their patients, serious problems can arise. This type of malpractice is surprisingly common, especially in places like acute rehab facilities and nursing homes. Patients are frequently ignored or left to suffer. In some cases, understaffing or lack of proper equipment can cause the failure to treat a patient.

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Is There a Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Yes, there is. You have three years to file your malpractice lawsuit. It is imperative that you do not let that time pass and not file your lawsuit. If you do not file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations lapses, you will forfeit your chance to have your case heard in court. 

Get Help from a D.C. Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

If you are seriously hurt by medical malpractice, you deserve answers. But getting those answers is no easy task. A week in the hospital, for instance, could generate hundreds or even thousands of pages of electronic medical records. Those records can be highly difficult to collect and analyze. The answers may be found in lab work, blood test results, radiological imaging reports or even EKG strips. To the untrained eye, the records may look like page after page of notes. However, a skilled physician who has spent a career looking for medical errors will know how to identify a problem that led to a serious injury or illness or unexpected death.

If you have been hurt by a medical error or lost someone you love due to suspected medical malpractice, contact us now. Dr. Wilson and our highly trained professional staff at the law firm of The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates, will know how to carefully investigate your case and take steps to pursue the answers and compensation you deserve. We have handled more than 2,000 medical malpractice cases and recovered in excess of $100 million in compensation for our firm’s clients. We can put that experience to work for you today.

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