Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice


What are the most common types of medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a medical practitioner or hospital causes injury to a patient through negligence or omission. Even with technological and other advances in the medical industry, medical malpractice still occurs. According to the 2017 Medscape Report, most medical malpractice cases, for those surveyed, involve failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis (31%), complications in treatment/surgery (27%), poor outcome/disease progression (24%), failure to treat (17%), wrongful death (16%), patient suffered abnormal injury (9%), medication errors (3%), poor documentation or patient education (3%), lack of informed consent (2%), and failure to follow safety procedures (2%).

However, across the United states, the most common types of medical malpractice can be organized in the following categories:


Misdiagnosis & Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are major causes of malpractice complaints. Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to correctly diagnose a condition while delayed diagnosis happens when a doctor fails to diagnose something that should have been treated as soon as the symptoms first appeared. When misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis occur, a patient could miss the opportunity to be treated for a condition that could lead to serious harm or death. Additionally, a misdiagnosis can often lead to medication errors as well. Read more.

Failure to Treat

Failure to treat is when a doctor has a correct diagnosis but fails to recommend adequate treatment. This type of malpractice case often happens due to negligence, because doctors are overbooked/overworked and cannot keep up with treating all patients with diligence. It can be known as “putting profits over safety.” Read more.

Surgical Error

Although it only happens occasionally, surgeons are still liable for a number of surgical errors. These could include anything from puncturing an organ or blood vessel to leaving equipment inside the body. Surgical errors can also consist of mistakes done in post-op care and can include anything from incorrect medications being administered to improper care that could lead to infection and further complications. Read more.

Birth Injury

Birth injuries are those that happen due to medical malpractice or negligence during labor and delivery. Unsurprisingly, birth injury claims are often filed against OB/GYNs for childbirth-related medical mistakes. These cases are extremely devastating to expecting parents and can be the result of inappropriate pre-natal care or issues during the childbirth. Read more.

Anesthesia Error

Anesthesia error cases happen when mistakes are made with regards to anesthesia dosage, or other processes that can lead to permanent injury or even death. Although anesthesia mistakes are not very frequent, they can often be more dangerous than a surgical error. Anesthesiologists can be liable for mistakes that happen even before the anesthesia is administered. This can include lack of research of patient’s medical history, potential reactions/complications with certain anesthetics, and failing to inform the patient of risks involved if pre-op instructions are not followed (such as being in fasting prior to the procedure). Additionally, mistakes can be made by giving too much anesthesia to a patient, improper incubation, not monitoring vital signs, and using defective equipment. Read more.

Medication Errors

Medication errors are common and encompass anything from errors in the initial prescription to the administration of the drug. Common errors include incorrect dosage in the prescription as well as failure to do due diligence for any potentially harmful drug interactions. Additionally, mistakes with medications are generally exacerbated in a hospital setting where the correct drug might be administered in the wrong dosage to the wrong patients. Physicians face many challenges in their career including several years of study, long work hours, and sometimes stressful cases. With all these stressors, physicians are oftentimes caught off-guard by malpractice lawsuits and are often named in multiple lawsuits. Improving the patient experience, finding a healthy work-life balance and ensuring you have great malpractice insurance will go a long way to lowering the occurrence of medical malpractice cases. Read more.