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Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

  • Jun 28, 2019
  • The Harr Law Firm

Doctors and other medical professionals are among the most commonly sued careers in the United States. And, according to a study in the Journal of Patient Safety, hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in the country, accounting for about 440,000 deaths per year.

When you enter a hospital or doctor’s office, you are quite literally entrusting your life and wellbeing to the knowledge and experience of the medical staff. When that trust is breached, injuries and even death can occur; when this happens, many victims of medical errors or neglect pursue medical malpractice lawsuits. Here are the most common types of medical malpractice lawsuits we see.


Failing to diagnose a medical condition, or incorrectly diagnosing it, is unfortunately a common medical mistake. Of course, nobody is infallible, and with an enormous range of medical conditions with similar symptoms out there, it is understandable that your doctor may sometimes be incorrect in their diagnoses.

However, failing to diagnose a serious condition can have devastating consequences for the patient. A life-threatening condition that could have been caught in time may instead end their life. An incorrectly prescribed medication or treatment can lead to negative impacts on a patient’s health. A patient who may have received relief from a painful condition may continue to suffer due to a doctor’s failure to diagnosis their condition.

If you have been misdiagnosed, or a doctor has failed to diagnose your condition, and you’ve suffered as a result, you may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice case for the misdiagnosis. However, it will be important to prove that the doctor did not do their due diligence in diagnosing you. This could take the form of them failing to send you to a specialist for a second opinion, or neglecting to request proper diagnostic testing for your condition.

Surgical Errors

We’ve all heard horror stories about surgical errors: Patients have tools or other items left inside the body during surgery. The surgeons perform the operation on the wrong side of the body. Or, the wrong patient receives the wrong surgery altogether. Luckily, surgical errors of this extent are not extremely common, as hospitals have very thorough procedures to prevent such things from happening.

However, other types of surgical errors can be no less devastating to a patient. Surgeons often work in close proximity with a patient’s nerves, and even a slight hand tremor can result in nerve damage that can drastically alter the patient’s life. Patients may also receive too much anesthesia, which can result in brain damage from oxygen deprivation.

In cases involving a surgical error, the onus of evidence once again falls on the prosecuting party. You must be able to prove actual negligence in your case, as opposed to a simple accident occurring. For example, if you can prove that the surgeon was operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and their inebriated stated resulted in a surgical error, you will have strong grounds for proving medical malpractice.

Failure to Treat

Unlike a misdiagnosis, in medical malpractice lawsuits for a failure to treat, the patient’s condition is correctly diagnosed. However, the doctor fails to provide proper treatment in accordance with an acceptable standard of care for that condition. This can include any of the following situations:

  • Failure to provide the necessary treatment in a timely manner
  • Discharging a patient too soon
  • Lack of follow-up care
  • Failure to refer a patient to a specialist when necessary
  • Refusing to treat a patient due to lack of insurance
  • Failure to advise a patient of all treatment options

These types of situations most often arise when a patient’s complaints are ignored or dismissed by the physician. If you’ve encountered any of the above situations, contact one of our medical malpractice attorneys.

Birth Injuries

Injuries related to childbirth are another common source of medical malpractice lawsuits. Whether the injury occurred to the mother or the child, if the delivering doctor or other medical staff member demonstrated neglect or otherwise caused the injury, you have grounds to pursue a lawsuit. Common types of birth injuries caused by medical neglect or errors include:

  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Cephalohematoma
  • And others

The happiness that should follow the birth of a child can also turn to heartache when a medical professional’s neglect results in an injury to mother or child. Be aware of your rights, and contact an attorney if necessary.

Prescription Drug Errors

Doctors often make errors in prescribing medications. They may prescribe the wrong medication for your condition, or prescribe an incorrect dose. These types of errors can result in harm to a patient in many cases.

If you’ve experienced harm or neglect as a result of a medical professional’s errors, please contact one of our medical malpractice attorneys today. We can advise you on whether or not you have grounds for a lawsuit, and will represent you in your medical malpractice case.