We all go to a hospital, clinic or wellness center when we’re not feeling well or suffering an injury of some kind. We go to these places expecting to be healed, or at least to feel better. And be able to walk out the door and get back to our normal lives.
However, we also expect that a small percentage of us won’t walk out of there in one piece.
But we do expect that a death that occurs isn’t the fault of anyone who works in that hospital or clinic – the cause was just too great for them to overcome.
While any death is painful, a death that could have been avoided is even more so. While medical malpractice, in general, is uncommon, the truth is that doctors and nurses aren’t perfect, and things do happen that are unfortunate. Are they simple mistakes though, or was there more?
Medical malpractice is a specter over the entire medical industry, and there are several types of malpractice that occur. Here are the four most common types in no particular order. Do you recognize anything in here?
There are many treatments (and even some cures) that are specific to certain disorders, yet there are some disorders that may be confused because of the symptoms and/or test results. It’s one thing when a doctor tells you that you have one kind of fever instead of a different one, both of which could be treated the same way; it’s another thing when the diagnosis is a migraine headache instead of a brain tumor. Those two things require very different treatments, and could cost you your life or at least thousands and thousands of dollars.
There is a reason why doctors often ask us about any medicines we are currently taking before they issue us a new prescription, and there is ample reason why we should always be complete and honest when giving our list. Many diseases can be treated multiple ways, and it’s important not to have any “cross-pollination” with other drugs because they may result in negative consequences for you, or offset the benefits of the prescription and retard progress of treatment.
But even if we’re open and honest, doctors may still prescribe the wrong medication for our problem, which may stem from a misdiagnosis (mentioned above) or from negligence in understanding a medication’s complication with another medication or another physical problem.
Being pregnant or having a baby are two of the great blessings we could possibly receive, though the processes can be trying. While a number of pregnancies themselves do not end with a live birth, there are many millions more that do end joyfully.
Pregnancy and childbirth are complex, and much could go wrong – or even one thing going wrong could create problems. This is not where medical malpractice comes in; it comes when one of these challenges comes up and the obstetrician acts in a way that is inconsistent with what other reasonably trained practitioners would do in a similar situation (such as diagnosing birth defects, an ectopic pregnancy or preeclampsia, as examples).
Having a surgical procedure of any kind (even cosmetic) is a big deal, because most involve some kind of invasive incision and exposing the insides of the human body to outside air and surgery tools or surgeon’s fingers and hands at various points. Surgeons, however, are among the most skilled practitioners in the medical field because of their calmness and steadiness under pressure.
Anesthesia is often part of a surgery, and it is a drug that must be administered correctly, and we trust our anesthesiologist to do the right thing and ask the right questions to understand how much of the drug our body can handle during a procedure. Most of these practitioners are very good at what they do, and errors are few and far between.
However, both surgeons and anesthesiologists are human and thus are prone to mistakes. If an anesthesiologist misses on the amount of a drug to administer during surgery, the patient could wake up duringthe procedure, or could be unconscious for an extended period of time, thus being subject to side effects of the anesthesia that could have a lasting impact.
And with surgeons, while they mostly do a good job, they may also be subject to negligent behaviors sometimes as well if their work leads to long recovery times, further infection and the like. This could include wrong incisions, operating on the wrong part of the body, or doing damage to nearby organs that should have been avoided. A patient does not have to die for the negligence to happen; infection or an injury that should have had nothing to do with the original procedure could be enough (nerve or organ damage, for example).