Medical Malpractice and the Law

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We rely on doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to give us the best advice and treatment. Most of the time, this is precisely what happens. However, there are occasions on which commitment to care falls short, which can have serious consequences for patients. In this article, we will explore what is meant by medical malpractice, some of the most common examples, and what to do if you have been a victim.

Definition

Medical malpractice is defined as any action or lack of action by a healthcare professional that deviates from accepted standards of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient. The injury may be physical or psychological, and can also include cases in which invasive or experimental treatment is conducted without prior informed consent from the patient, legal representative, or next of kin.

Examples of medical malpractice

There are a large number of possible areas of medical negligence, with varying degrees of severity. Some of them more frequently seen examples are provided below:

Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose

If a patient is misdiagnosed, they are likely to be given treatment for a condition they do not have. Not only does this leave them susceptible to unpleasant or damaging side effects, as well as placing unnecessary strain on their body, but it prevents the diagnosis and treatment of the correct condition. It can also cause significant psychological trauma if a misdiagnosis is made. Similarly, failure to interpret test results and make an accurate diagnosis will mean that a patient is not being treated for their condition. This can have severe consequences to their health in the short- and long-term.

Unnecessary or unsuccessful surgery, and surgical errors

Performing surgery that is not actually required can be extremely detrimental to a patient; not only does it cause unnecessary distress, but it can leave the patient in worse physical health than before the surgery. Similarly, surgery that is likely to be unsuccessful, or provides no benefit to the patient, should not be attempted. Surgical errors can have long-lasting effects that require further treatment, including subsequent surgery, that would not have been required otherwise. All surgical decisions must be taken with prior consent of the patient, their next of kin, or a legal representative. Failure to do so would be considered negligence.

Birth injuries

Injuries sustained during childbirth include fractures, hemorrhaging, contusions, oxygen deprivation and head and spinal injuries. Some birth injuries are so severe that they cause long-term health issues or permanent disability.

Medication or dosing errors

From prescription to dosing, patients are reliant on all involved healthcare professionals to ensure that there are no mistakes. Sometimes, errors are made with the type of medication prescribed, the dose or amount dispensed, and the timing of treatment. Errors related to medication may lead to little or no therapeutic benefit, prolongation of disease, overdose, or death.

Where to turn next

If you suspect you have been the victim of medical malpractice, consult with a specialist lawyer. They will have the knowledge and experience to assess your case and pursue legal action if necessary. For people based in Albany or Syracuse, speak with the experts and Powers & Santola; visit their website today to learn more.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.