Medical malpractice is the failure of a hospital physician, surgeon, chiropractor, nurse, dentist or other health care professional to follow the accepted standards of practice of his or her profession. If a physician was careless, lacked proper skills, or disregarded protocols of standards, resulting in injury to a patient, a jury may find the health care provider liable for negligence. Hospitals can also be held liable for the negligence of their employees, including physicians, staff nurses and technicians.
Additional examples of medical malpractice include:
- Brain injury
- Birth injury (for example, cerebral palsy)
- Surgical mistakes (for example, puncturing a nearby organ or tissue)
- Medication errors (for example, administering the wrong medicine or dosage)
- Hospital negligence
- Nursing home medical errors, neglect and abuse
- Nurse malpractice
- Sedation and anesthesia errors
- Failure to order necessary medical tests
- Failure to diagnose a condition in time to treat it properly
- Failure to refer a case to a medical specialist
- Failure to timely diagnose cancer
- Incorrect diagnosis that results in a failure to treat a medical condition
- Failure to diagnose a tumor or other abnormality while reading an x-ray
- Failure to note patient allergies to medications or products used
- Emergency room negligence (for example, premature discharge from the ER or failure to diagnose a condition)
- Chiropractic negligence
- Dental malpractice
- Psychiatric malpractice
- Military medical malpractice (civilian)
- Wrongful death
Defective Drugs Or Products:
The sad truth is that some pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers have put the public at risk by bringing dangerous or defective products to market. A medical product may be considered defective because of a manufacturing or design defect. In addition to design and manufacturing defects, insufficient warning of consumers as to possible side effects can also serve as the basis of litigation for both medical products and drugs.
Often, when a person is injured as a result of medical treatment, the first assumption often is that the physician or other health care provider made a mistake. In many cases, however, it is learned that the doctor did nothing wrong and the injury was caused by a defective or dangerous medication or medical device. In such a case, the claim for injuries should actually be brought against the manufacturer of the drug or device.
Another area of medical malpractice involves medication and prescription errors made by doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Unfortunately, patients are sometimes given the wrong prescription or dosage, with very serious, often deadly, results.
Medication errors can happen for several reasons, such as the doctor’s illegible handwriting or dictation of the wrong drug, a mistranscription by the hospital transcriptionist, or the pharmacist’s drug dispensing error. In other cases, the nurse gives the wrong medication or amount, or the doctor does not ask all of the pertinent questions while examining the patient. In some cases, the medications have potential side effects which should be monitored but are not. Most commonly, the type of medication error involves incorrect dosages. If the dose is too little, the medication is ineffective. If the dose is too much, the medication may have side effects and other consequences, including death.
Also, if a patient is taking more than one medication, it is the healthcare provider’s responsibility to monitor drug intake. A mix of the wrong medications can be fatal in some cases.
When you undergo surgery, the last face you usually see is that of the anesthesiologist, who will regulate your consciousness during the operation. The anesthesiologist is responsible for maintaining vital signs throughout the length of the procedure. Too little anesthesia and you will awake to great pain and panic; too much anesthesia and you will never wake up. When anesthesiologists make errors in administering anesthesia, the results are usually catastrophic, including coma and death.
Adverse Drug Reactions:
Adverse drug reaction is defined as a medical event caused by a prescription drug which results in a patient’s death, hospitalization or disability, or has caused a congenital abnormality, a life-threatening event, or a required intervention to prevent permanent damage. Up to 200,000 patients die every year from adverse drug reactions, according to reports from the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Institute of Medicine. Adverse drug reactions are considered to be the 4th leading cause of death in America, killing more people than pulmonary disease, diabetes, AIDS, pneumonia and automobile collision deaths.
If a doctor or nurse is careless, they won’t test for or ask about allergies, or will fail to note the patient’s allergies when treating the patient. For example, some patients are allergic to medications, the metals used for implants or the latex commonly found in the hospital setting. In some cases, where patients whose medication and other allergies have been disregarded, serious injury and death have resulted.
The key to successful treatment of lung cancer is early diagnosis and many medical mistakes can lead to a delay in diagnosis which may deprive patients of the chance for a cure. Failure to diagnose lung cancer or significant delay in diagnosing the disease may constitute medical malpractice. Delays in diagnosis may cause a worsening of the illness and are often a result of:
- Failure to order chest x-ray, CT scan and MRI procedures
- Failure to adequately evaluate the results of the above
- Failure to recognize the symptoms that characterize lung cancer and diagnose it in time.
Patients may complain of a lump, mass or cyst in one of their breasts during a doctor’s visit, or the physician may notice a lump during an examination. When permitted to grow unimpeded, the cancer spreads to other areas of the body (metastasis) and can completely devastate a person’s life. Sometimes physicians fail to take such patient complaints seriously or to properly follow up with additional diagnostic tests, including mammograms, sonograms and biopsies.
It is the responsibility of treating physician and technicians to provide adequate medical care for their patients, including correctly interpreting symptoms, ordering follow-up tests in a timely manner and correctly reading test results. The failure to take the proper precautions, and to perform each of the procedures correctly, as other medical personnel would have done, is medical malpractice.
Cerebral palsy results from permanent brain injuries that affect an infant in the womb, during birth or in the months following birth and is one of the most common birth injuries in the United States. Cerebral palsy patients are subject to limited motor skills, speech difficulties and learning disabilities. When cerebral palsy occurs as the result of medical malpractice, the responsible party inflicting said injuries can be held legally responsible.
Our attorneys handle chiropractic negligence claims. A chiropractor, like other health care professionals, is held to certain standards of practice. When those standards are violated and those violations result in damage to patients and their families, an action for malpractice can be brought against the chiropractor. Two areas where chiropractic malpractice can occur are: (1) when a chiropractor fails to diagnose a condition requiring immediate medical attention; and (2) when damage results from chiropractic manipulation. Complications of chiropractic manipulation can result in cognitive or emotional dysfunction, paralysis or death, vertebral and rib fractures, vertebrobasilar stroke, disc herniation, and damage to the spinal cord.
Hospital Malpractice/Hospital Negligence:
Hospital malpractice occurs when a person is harmed in a hospital after receiving improper or negligent medical care. There are set standards of care for every hospital with respect to how they are supposed to treat and care for patients. If a hospital staff fails to follow these prescribed standards which results in injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
Since hospitals contain vast resources and offer a multitude of different services, hospital negligence can take many forms. Injuries resulting from hospital staff’s failure to order the correct tests, failure to refer patients to the correct specialist, a mistaken diagnosis, or failure to treat a patient can all be construed as hospital malpractice. Similarly, if hospital staff fails to properly treat a patient through acts such as the improper use of medical equipment, or authorizing unnecessary surgeries, they can be held liable for malpractice.
If you or someone you know needs the assistance of an experienced Maryland medical negligence or medical malpractice attorney, call Otway Russo, P.C. today at (410) 983-6799, or complete the contact form provided on this site to schedule a free consultation.