Common examples of medical malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider causes injury to a patient due to a negligent act or omission. The negligence may involve diagnostic errors, treatment and aftercare errors, or errors in health management. Examples of medical malpractice that a patient may claim in a lawsuit include:

  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Medication errors
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Surgical errors

Because the laws pertaining to medical malpractice are complicated, it’s important that you have an understanding about the general rules that apply to medical malpractice cases in order to determine whether you have a potential lawsuit.

Other medical malpractice examples

While a patient may suffer an injury while under the care of a physician or other healthcare professional due to errors in judgement, such as making a wrong diagnosis, or an operational error, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she has a valid claim of medical malpractice.

There are four important elements as they relate to proving negligence in a medical malpractice claim:

  • Duty — the law recognizes that a doctor, other healthcare professional, or hospital has a responsibility to provide reasonable care and treatment to his or her patients by following basic standards of care that are practiced by other health care professionals in the community for the same or similar conditions
  • Breach — if that standard of care was not followed by the doctor, other healthcare professional, or hospital, then the duty has been breached
  • Injury — the patient must be able to prove that his or her injury was the direct result of the breach of duty on the part of the doctor, other healthcare professional, or hospital and wouldn’t have happened in the absence of negligence
  • Damages — the injury in question has caused the patient to suffer damages, economic, non-economic, or both

Was it gross negligence?

While negligence plays a role in all medical malpractice cases, it’s the degree of negligence that usually determines the damages awarded to the victim of medical malpractice. Gross negligence can be defined as “aggravated negligence that amounts to an indifference to one’s legal obligations with the respect to the rights of others”. An example of medical malpractice involving gross negligence would be when a surgeon performs an operation while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In addition to economic and non-economic damages, a plaintiff that can prove gross negligence in a medical malpractice claim may also receive punitive damages as well.

Scott S. Harris, San Diego medical malpractice attorney, has over 30 years of experience when it comes to litigating cases involving medical malpractice. If you or a family member feel that you have been injured as a result of negligence on the part of a physician, other healthcare professional, or hospital, contact our office to schedule your free initial consultation.