Five Common Types of Medical Malpractice

medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is a term many are familiar with, or have at least heard in passing.  But, do you really know what it means?  It’s much more than just a dissatisfied customer.

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor or nurse who fails to provide proper health care treatment.  Legally, medical malpractice means that a doctor or medical provider must have been negligent in some way (i.e. the provider was not reasonably skillful or competent, resulting in harm to a patient).

It is understood when examining the medical field that on a small scale, mistakes will be made.  However, within that small scale, certain types of errors do crop up more often than others.  These are the top five most common types of medical malpractice:


Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis make up the majority of medical malpractice complaints.  In such a complex field as medicine, mistakes are going to be made.  However, often a physician’s negligence will cause them to completely overlook obvious signs and symptoms in a patient.  These oversights might mean that a patient misses out on treatment opportunities that could have prevented serious harm or even death.

Negligence Affecting Pregnancy and Childbirth

Negligence in these cases can happen long before childbirth or during the birthing process.  Negligent prenatal care can occur, for example, if a doctor fails to identify a medical condition of the mother (e.g. preeclampsia), birth defects, ectopic pregnancies, or diagnose a disease that could be contagious to the mother’s fetus.

A number of injuries can also occur during childbirth, some quite severe.  These include brain injury, broken bones or paralysis.  If a doctor’s negligence is the cause of such conditions, or the doctor failed to take the steps necessary to treat a condition that could have lead to or caused such severe injuries, medical malpractice may have occurred.  However, you should keep in mind that injuries such as these are more often due to natural causes.

Surgical Error

Some malpractice claims are seemingly more straightforward, arising from mistakes made in the operating room.  In such instances, negligence may occur during the operation itself, say, if a surgeon punctures an organ, operates on the wrong body or leaves a surgical instrument inside the body.  Negligence can also fall on the nursing staff if improper post-op care is administered, resulting in serious issues like infection.

Anesthesia Error

These mistakes are more infrequent, but can be much more dangerous.  Even the smallest error in the administration of anesthesia can result in permanent injury, brain damage or death.  Often, the greatest negligence in these cases is due to improper monitoring of the patient; vital signs may not be carefully monitored, too much anesthesia may be administered, defective equipment may be used, etc.

Negligence may also occur if the anesthesiologist fails to investigate a patient’s medical history for possible complications (e.g. allergies), or fails to inform a patient of necessary pre-op procedures.

Medication Error

Medication errors can occur in several different ways.  It can come from the initial prescription of a drug or during the administration of a drug.  A patient can be prescribed (by doctor or pharmacist) the wrong drug altogether, not asked if he or she has any allergies, administered the wrong drug while in a hospital or doctor’s care, or prescribed a drug to treat a misdiagnosed condition.

However, the most common medication errors involve dosage (or improper dosage).  A patient can be given too much or too little of a drug if the doctor writes the dosage incorrectly on the prescription, the dosage is correct but a nurse administers the incorrect amount, or if equipment malfunctions while administering a dosage.

It’s important to keep in mind that just because you had a bad medical outcome or bad medical experience, does not necessarily mean that you have suffered medical malpractice.  If, however, you do believe that you have cause to file a claim for medical malpractice, don’t wait to seek advice and representation.  If you’ve suffered, you’ve waited long enough.

Contact the skilled and proven team at Coxwell & Associates at (601) 948-1600 to discuss the details of your case. We’ll schedule a no-pressure initial consultation for you and help you determine the best course of action.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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