Although many people harbor the misconception that doctors know everything, this is far from the truth. Doctors are just people and as such they are fallible. But because people believe that their doctors know best, they often fail to take control of their own medical care, allowing those in the medical community to steer the ship, so to speak. And patients who fail to take the time and initiative to question their doctors could find themselves suffering as a result. However, even if you do everything right, asking questions, double-checking prescriptions, and doing necessary research to become an informed participant in your own medical care, you might still suffer at the hands of medical professionals that make mistakes or simply under-perform. Here are just a few common medical mistakes that lead to malpractice lawsuits.
- Misdiagnosis. Even with years of intensive study, continuing education, and practical experience, doctors don’t know everything. When you go to see your doctor, it’s your job to present him with any symptoms you are experiencing so that he can recommend testing and make a diagnosis. But you may not be aware of pertinent symptoms, or he might not administer the needed tests to make a proper diagnosis. And the result could be that you end up with an erroneous diagnosis and treatment, potentially leading to worsening medical conditions.
- Delayed care. If you fail to go to the hospital when you’re in pain, it’s not the doctor’s fault when your appendix bursts. But if you arrive in pain and you get stuck in a room for several hours while tests are being run, and then your appendix bursts, you can reasonably blame the delay in care to resulting medical problems, which could have been avoided in this case, just as an example.
- Medication errors. Anyone who has received a prescription from a doctor knows that their handwriting can be nearly illegible. And nurses that call in prescriptions, pharmacy techs that receive them, and pharmacists that fill them may not be able to read them any better than you. It is for this reason that some doctors are finally switching to software that allows them to send prescriptions directly to pharmacies in a digital format, reducing errors significantly. But in the meantime, you could be getting the wrong dosage or the wrong medication. If you want to avoid this, it’s in your best interest to write the information down yourself while you’re at the doctor’s office or hospital so that you can confirm with the pharmacist when you pick up your prescription.
- Negligence. This occurs when medical staff fails to properly supervise patients or the care they receive from trainees (residents, nurses, volunteers, and so on). If a patient is injured or otherwise harmed because they were not monitored or they were given inappropriate treatment by someone unqualified to deliver such care, a malpractice suit for damages could definitely follow.
- Death. Let’s be honest here: people with medical issues sometimes die, and it’s not always the fault of the attending physician. Sometimes people just pass on. If a patient gets an infection following surgery and dies but the medical staff did everything by the book, then the death will likely be viewed as unavoidable and the medical professionals cleared of any wrongdoing. But if someone requests surgical mesh help due to discomfort, pain, or other issues and dies after failing to receive adequate care, the death could definitely be deemed malpractice.