What is Medical Negligence?
As a patient, you put a certain amount of trust in the doctor you choose to provide you with a medical diagnosis and medical treatment. If the doctor you chose does not provide you with appropriate care, medical negligence may be involved. Medical negligence can be defined as an act or failure to act by a medical professional that deviates from the accepted standard of care. Most medical malpractice claims involve medical negligence. If medical negligence caused significant harm to a patient, the victim and/or their family may have a good case for medical malpractice.
Similar to a driver being at fault for causing another driver’s injuries in a rear-end collision, a medical professional can be at fault for causing unnecessary harm to a patient. Doctors and other medical professionals like nurses owe a duty of care to their patients. This means that any treatments they provide must meet the standard of care for the patient’s specific diagnosis. “Medical standard of care” can be defined as the type and level of care a reasonably competent healthcare professional with a similar background in the medical community would provide under the same or similar circumstances. If a doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist, or any other healthcare professional provides care or treatment that deviates from the standard of care, that would be considered medical negligence.
Common Types of Medical Negligence
There are multiple types of medical negligence that can lead to a patient being harmed. The most common include:
- Misdiagnosis: The first step to treating a patient is to diagnose what issue the patient is having that is causing them to seek treatment. An error in diagnosis can change the path the patient is on and can prolong and worsen their pain and suffering.
- Delayed Diagnosis: Delays in diagnosing a patient’s condition can lead to prolonged injury or illness if that condition is allowed to progress instead of being treated. If a doctor delays the diagnosis because their workload is too heavy and they are unable to give individual attention to their patients, the hospital or clinic may be held liable for the resulting delay in diagnosis and treatment.
- Surgical Error: Even the smallest amount of medical negligence during a surgical procedure can result in more surgery, infections, sepsis, organ damage, and even death. Surgery requires a great amount of skill and attention and the smallest mistake can alter a patient’s life permanently. Surgical errors can include performing surgery on the wrong body part, uncontrolled blood loss, perforation of an organ, or even a foreign object being left in the patient’s body.
- Unnecessary Procedure: A patient receiving an unnecessary surgical procedure is often tied to being misdiagnosed in the first place. Recommending an unnecessary surgical procedure in itself is not considered an act of medical negligence, however, there are always serious risks with any surgical procedure. If surgery could have been avoided, the decision to perform surgery may be considered medical negligence.
- Anesthesia Error: Anesthesiologists are responsible for administering and monitoring the effects of anesthesia on their patients. Errors in anesthesia occur when the anesthesiologist does not properly calculate the amount of chemicals to use or does not monitor the patient closely enough. This can result in patient injury and death.
- Childbirth Trauma and Labor Injury: Childbirth, while beautiful, can be very traumatic for a newborn baby and his or her mother. Doctors and nurses delivering the baby must be prepared for complications to occur. If they are not prepared and do not react in time to help the mother and baby make it safely through labor, medical negligence may be involved. Some types of medical negligence involved during childbirth include failure to perform a c-section, not making adjustments during a difficult birth, misdiagnosis of newborn medical conditions, or failure to monitor the vital signs of the baby and mother.
- Failure to Follow Up: After medical treatment has been given by a doctor, there should be stages of follow-up appointments or contact that allow the doctor to see how you are progressing and healing. If your doctor or nurse decides to end treatment too early, does not adjust the treatment for your progress, or does not account for side effects you may experience based on your medical history, they may be held liable for any harm done to you.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Regardless of how a patient receives medical care, the quality provided should not falter. Careless mistakes cost more than just legal fees; these harmful actions have the potential to affect lives forever. If you or a loved one were a victim of medical malpractice, contact the Philadelphia trial lawyers of Lopez McHugh LLP today to discuss your case.