Medical Malpractice overview
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor makes an error and such error causes injury to the patient; it encompasses a wide range of possibilities, however, the core boils down to whether the provider's services were within the standard of care and caused the complained injury.
Some areas include:
Failure to MonitorA failure to monitor occurs when a patient is not monitored by their provider and as time passes, the patient is injured in some way. Typically, this type of injury occurs in either failure to properly monitor a fetus during labor and delivery or failure to monitor a patient after surgery.
Failure to DiagnoseA failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a disease or illness is typically a challenging claim to make. A patient that presents to a doctor with a particular set of symptoms may appear different than the typical presentation of a disease or illness. If a doctor makes a diagnosis and because of that diagnosis pursues a treatment plan that turns out to be harmful or unhelpful to the patient, it may result in injury to the patient. The problem to a prospective claim against that doctor is she may have performed her services sufficient to meet the standard of care despite the injury.
Drug Error / Drug InteractionsPrescribing the wrong drug to treat a condition does happen, though it is rare. Another injury that can occur is when a doctor prescribes the correct drug, but the wrong drug, or wrong dose, is administered. Any of these errors can result in serious injury or death.
Many patients, particularly elderly patients, are often given many different drugs. These drugs can interact with other drugs and cause significant injury or death. A doctor should be aware of the potential for such interactions and when they occur, it may be the result of medical malpractice.
Drugs are given "black box warnings" by the FDA and doctors ought to know these warnings when they issue prescriptions. These warnings indicate potential side effects that may occur upon taking the drug. If a doctor ignores a black box warning and it causes injuries, he may have committed malpractices, though it is not guaranteed.
Surgical ErrorsSurgery is often a very risky endeavor; there is no such thing as "minor surgery." From risks associated with the doctor cutting in the wrong place, to anesthesia related side effects, to improper use of instruments and medical devices, blood clots, nerve damage, and sepsis, surgery can result in many different types of injuries; some may give rise to an actionable malpractice suit, many do not.
Doctors attempt to inform their patients about the potential risks they may encounter in the surgical suite. Despite such information, and despite the patient's waiver, a doctor cannot warn about, and cannot be absolved of liability for, his own actions that fall below the standard of care that result in significant injury.