Although the majority of medical procedures and treatments go to plan, there are occasions when malpractice leads to serious injury and long-term trauma to patients. In cases of medical negligence, it is critically important to investigate and take appropriate action; not only to compensate the victims, but to ensure that future patients are protected.
In this article, we will explore medical malpractice, some examples, and actions you should take if you have been a victim.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community, and causes an injury to the patient. It can take many forms, including making unintentional or preventable error, conducting a procedure without adequate qualifications or training, acting without informed consent, as well as wilful abuse of patients.
People who have suffered as a result of medical malpractice may not be aware that they are a victim, which is why it is imperative that any suspicion of medical negligence is assessed by a knowledgeable and experienced legal professional.
Examples of medical malpractice
Surgical errors, including anesthesia
Even a small error during surgery can leave a patient with serious injuries, which may require extensive treatment in the long term. Surgical errors can have broad consequences, including loss of movement, altered sensation, paralysis, diminished organ function, or a need for further procedures or medication. Similarly, errors made by an anesthetist can include dosing miscalculations, intubation injuries, failure to monitor the patient correctly, and ineffective post-operative pain management; all of which can have severe consequences. A mistake during an operation may leave the patient with additional medical expenses, an increase in their premiums, a need to take time away from work, or even a suspension of employment.
Poor or misleading advice regarding surgical intervention can put patients through unnecessary distress, traumatic post-operative treatment, and impact their ability to work and resume everyday activities. Surgery must be performed with the patient’s informed consent and in the best interest of their wellbeing; if the patient does not receive comprehensive and honest advice before agreeing to have a procedure performed, it becomes a case of negligence.
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
If patients do not receive a correct or timely diagnosis, they may be left suffering from a condition without treatment, or being treated for a condition they do not have. This has an impact on their long-term health, can cause unnecessary distress, and may even have life-limiting consequences.
Medication or dosage error
Mistakes in treatment decisions, as well as dosing errors, can have enormously detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of patients. Physicians, nurses, and pharmacists are all responsible for ensuring that a patient is prescribed an appropriate treatment at the correct dosage.
Before prescribing or conducting a treatment, physicians must be satisfied that the benefits to a patient’s health outweigh potential drawbacks. If a doctor has not shown due diligence in their treatment decisions, which then result in injury to the patient, this is considered to be negligence.
Where to turn next
It is crucial that any case of malpractice is reported to the institution and relevant regulatory body. For the individual patient, compensation to cover expenses, trauma, and the long-term financial impact of medical negligence should be sought. Expert medical malpractice attorneys are trained to support patients in securing a commensurate award.