5 Major Types of Medical Malpractice

medical malpracticesDoctors and surgical staff are responsible for doing everything within their power to keep their patients safe while they are in their care. They are responsible for doing their job as accurately as possible. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to make a mistake because any mistake they make can affect a patient’s life.

Despite the life-changing consequences, some malpractice patients do not seek compensation. Many patients are not sure if medical malpractice occurred in their particular circumstance. Patients should always contact a medical malpractice lawyer if they suspect any of the following five major types of malpractice has occurred.

From 2006 to 2016, there were 143,713 payments made for medical malpractice, resulting in 433,151 adverse actions and requiring 60,788 practitioners to seek reinstatement.

1. Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosis happens when the doctor examines the patient but fails to diagnose the exact illness. The doctor could diagnose the patient with an illness they do not have. Or the doctor could say, incorrectly, that the patient does not have a discernible illness.

Because it stops the patient from receiving needed treatment, misdiagnosis is considered malpractice. The opposite holds true, as well. It is considered malpractice when healthy patients are incorrectly diagnosed with an illness or disease they don’t have and then receive treatments they don’t need.

However, it’s only when the doctor failed to do what another doctor would have done in a similar treatment situation, resulting in the patient being harmed, that medical malpractice has occurred.

2. Delayed Diagnosis

Delayed diagnosis is when the doctor makes an incorrect diagnosis in the beginning, but eventually, the patient receives the correct diagnosis. However, the delayed diagnosis caused the patient’s condition to worsen because the patient did not receive the necessary treatment at the onset of the illness.

In order for a case to qualify as a delayed diagnosis case, the doctor would’ve had to have evaluated the patient less competently than another doctor would have. An example would be when a doctor did not order a necessary test that would have led to a correct diagnosis. Or the doctor failed to see the signs of a disease on a CT scan or X-rays.

3. Failure to Treat

Failure to treat is when a doctor diagnoses the patient correctly but fails to recommend the proper treatment. A lot of times, these situations occur when a doctor purposely tries to treat too many patients. Because of this, the doctors are not giving their patients the attention they need, and the standard of care falls into neglect.

Examples would be when the doctor discharges a patient too soon, neglects to offer follow-up care, or fails to refer the patient to a specialist. This practice has become known as “Putting profits over safety.”

4. Surgical Errors

It’s a fact that surgical errors can have significant consequences on a patient’s quality of life. When a patient signs a consent form acknowledging the risks of surgical complications or even death, the patient does not give up the right to sue for their injuries.

Cases of surgical errors that may constitute malpractice include:

  • Performing unnecessary surgery
  • Performing the incorrect procedure
  • Damaging organs, nerves, or tissues during surgery
  • Using non-sterile surgical instruments
  • Administering an incorrect amount of anesthesia
  • Leaving medical equipment inside the patient
  • Providing inadequate care after surgery

5. Birth Injury

Some of the most devastating types of medical malpractice occur during birth injuries caused by the negligence of the doctor or healthcare provider. In some cases, the birth injury can even result in the death of the mother or baby.

These injuries can happen in several different ways. For example, the Obstetrician’s prenatal care may not have been adequate enough, although the mother did seek treatment in time to ensure her and her unborn baby’s health.

During childbirth, negligence can also happen, resulting in birth injuries to mom or baby. Medical malpractice likely took place if those injuries were preventable. Unfortunately, birth injuries can often result in the need for lifelong medical care, which can end up costing several million over the patient’s lifetime.


Medical malpractice jury trials garnered relatively high median damage awards. The awards in medical malpractice jury trials ($400,000) were 17 times greater than the overall median awards in tort jury trials. These high award amounts may be partially explained by the fact that allegations of wrongful death were asserted in two-fifths of medical malpractice jury trials with plaintiff winners.

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