Doctors are expected to follow standard treatment protocols when evaluating a patient, but whenever they do not, they are breaching the duty of care to the patient. In Pennsylvania, elements of medical malpractice claims include: the duty of care, said duty was breached, the breach caused or was a proximate cause of the injury, and damages. According to the Physician Insurers Association of America (PIAA), which provides insurance for more than 60% of America’s private practice physicians, the most common medical malpractice claims are:
Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose is the most frequent medical malpractice problem, accounting for over 40% of claims. In emergency rooms for example, doctors can be hurried and thorough examinations are sometimes not performed. Inadequate examinations and follow-up procedures are very serious medical matters and can cause significant delays in treatment or severe health complications. Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include appendicitis, heart attack, and staph infections.
Surgical Errors or Mistakes
Surgical errors can involve any number of problems such as anesthesia error, incorrect incisions, accidental damage to an organ or body part, and complications associated with the surgery itself. Surgical mistakes and errors leave patients with serious medical problems and result in lengthy post-operative care, irreparable harm or possible death.
Failure to Treat
Medical malpractice claims for failure to treat include conditions such as prematurely discharging a patient, failing to follow-up or re-evaluate, or failing to recommend or refer a patient to a specialist for further treatment.
Prescription Drug Errors
According to a comprehensive study by the Institute of Medicine, prescription and other medication errors account for injuring nearly 1.5 Million patients per year. Medication errors occur at all levels of medical care such as pharmacies, hospitals, and even long-term care facilities. The best way to protect yourself from prescription errors or misfilled prescriptions is to be aware and double check the prescription to the medication. Click here for Four Ways to Protect Yourself From Misfilled Prescriptions.
For more information on medical malpractice, please read the articles “Concerning Your Medical Malpractice Case,” “What You Should Do if You Think You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice,” and “Medical Malpractice: What is it and When Do You Need an Attorney?” all of which can be found on the Carpey Law website.