Millions of Americans seek medical treatment in doctors’ offices, clinics, emergency departments, and hospitals each year. Unfortunately, a significant number of these patients receive substandard medical care that often results in an injury or a poor treatment outcome directly attributable to some type of medical error. Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence that occurs when a healthcare professional fails to act in accordance with the accepted standards of practice in his or her profession. This standard of care is one of the main ways in which medical malpractice cases are different from other types of personal injury cases. In order to establish the standard of care, it is often necessary to bring in expert witnesses in order to explain to the court what a “reasonable” healthcare professional would have done in a given situation. As a result, it is important for people who are injured by the negligence of a healthcare professional to retain an experienced Atlanta medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after an accident occurs.
While medical malpractice can occur in nearly any medical situation, some types tend to be more common than others. Three of these are explained in further detail below.
Failure to Diagnose or Misdiagnosis
Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosing a patient’s condition contributes to a significant number of medical malpractice claims each year. In many cases, a physician failed to consider a certain possibility based on a given set of symptoms or simply forgot to order a test that should have been ordered, often resulting in a worse outcome for a patient that he or she would have experienced had the correct condition been diagnosed.
Errors During Surgical Procedures
Errors that occur during surgery can be catastrophic for patients. Examples of common surgical errors include using incorrect surgical technique, leaving sponges or surgical instruments inside of a patient’s incision, operating on the wrong body part, or performing the entirely wrong procedure on a particular patient.
Medication errors can be extremely dangerous for patients. These kinds of errors can occur in a number of ways, including prescribing the wrong medication or dosage, improperly administering medication, not checking for dangerous interactions between medications, or giving medication intended for one patient to another patient.
It is important for people who are injured in a medical setting to understand that not all medical errors constitute medical malpractice. For example, if a physician chooses a particular course of treatment that happens to be ineffective, it is not malpractice unless the choice was outside of what would be generally accepted as within the standard of care within the profession.