What is Medical Malpractice?

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

In this context, “malpractice” is another word for “negligence,” which is a lack of care. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and most other professionals generally have a fiduciary duty. Physicians undergo years of training and patients usually have no medical knowledge whatsoever. Since patients are entirely dependent on their doctors, the duty of care is very high.

The bigger they are, the harder the fall. What might be an innocent mistake in some situations is actionable negligence in the doctor-patient context. As a result, a Lexington personal injury attorney might be able to obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation could include compensatory damages as well as additional punitive damages.

Misdiagnosis

Mostly because of a lack of information, about 20 percent of patients are misdiagnosed every year. Many doctors do not run a full battery of diagnostic tests, mostly because they are afraid the insurance company will not pay for them. Additionally, many doctors delegate test administration and results interpretations to less-qualified professionals, such as patient care technicians. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions are:

  • Head Injuries: Frequently, doctors rely on signature symptoms to diagnose illnesses and injuries. Many head injury victims do not lose consciousness or vomit. As a result, they might not get the treatment they need, and their conditions deteriorate.
  • Cancer: As far as many doctors are concerned, cancer is a lifestyle or genetic disease. Therefore, they do not believe that nonsmokers get lung cancer or people with no genetic history get any kind of cancer at all. Prompt and proper diagnosis is usually the key to surviving this disease.
  • Heart Disease: These illnesses involve both factors. Some people do not have signature heart disease symptoms. For example, many female heart attack victims do not have severe chest pains. Furthermore, many heart disease victims do not fit the “profile.” They are not middle-aged men who do not exercise much and have poor diets.

In high school, 80 percent is a passing grade. But in this context, because of the aforementioned high duty of care, 80 percent is a failing grade.345

Surgical Errors

Many, if not most, surgical errors occur before the doctors scrub up and enter the operating room.

Anesthesiologists must carefully review a patient’s medical history, as well as the type of procedure. Many patients are allergic to many medicines. Furthermore, some drugs should not be taken with some other drugs. The amount is critical as well. A bit too much, and the patient might not wake up. A bit too little, and the patient could wake up in the middle of a nightmare.

Despite the risks, many anesthesiologists do not carefully administer medicine or monitor their patients in the operating room. Some even leave the facility or ignore alarms.

Operating room errors are also far too common, especially since doctors have a fiduciary duty. These mistakes are also rather easy to prevent. For example, a simple instrument count prevents doctors from accidentally leaving surgical sponges and other objects inside patients. But in busy operating rooms, many doctors simply do not take the time to do these things.

Birth Injuries

Time also affects the risk of a birth injury. If a baby is too large to drift down a mother’s birth canal, the umbilical cord can cut off oxygen to the brain. At that point, permanent brain damage is only five minutes away.

When the clock is ticking and the pressure is on, like many of us, doctors make bad decisions. Some of these decisions include:

  • Episiotomy: Once upon a time, doctors routinely cut the mother’s perineum (area between the genitals and anus) to widen the birth canal. Now, researchers know that these incisions often cause profuse bleeding which threatens babies and mothers.
  • Forceps: These instruments resemble giant salad tongues. If the baby is lodged inside the mother, doctors use forceps to grab the baby and try to pull it out of the mother. This action often causes infant head and brain injuries.
  • Vacuum Extractor: This gadget is like forceps on steroids. Doctors place a cap on the stuck baby’s head, connect the cap to a surgical vacuum, and try to suck the infant out. Because of the increased force, vacuum extractor injuries are usually even more severe than forceps injuries.

Also, much like surgical mistakes, some birth injuries happen before the mother enters the delivery room. Doctors should identify red flags and respond to them appropriately. But many doctors are too busy to notice or too overconfident to take sufficient precautions.

Doctors have a high duty of care, but many doctors do not take this responsibility seriously. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We routinely handle matters in Fayette County and nearby jurisdictions.