Medical Malpractice Happens When Hospitals Don't Follow Well Established Patient Safety Rules.

When it comes to medical malpractice, most people think of surgical errors or mistakes in the hospital. But there are many other kinds of treatment errors that could lead to a valid medical malpractice lawsuit - which just means a doctor, hospital or HMO didn't follow established patient safety rules.  A lot of times, it's not the first mistake that makes a medical malpractice case, it's that it gets repeated, no one bothers to check it and there is no system for making sure it doesn't hurt the patient.

As medical malpractice lawyers, here are some of the most common malpractice errors we investigate in the D.C. area:

Prescriptions Drug Errors

Incorrect or improper prescriptions can still be a form of medical malpractice claims. If the drugs given to a patient are mistakenly prescribed-- if a drug known to cause birth defects is prescribed to a pregnant patient or a patient is prescribed two different drugs that have harmful interactive effects-- the treating physician has violated the standard of care.  If the pharmacy fills the wrong prescription or dosage, and that hurts the patient, that is a form of malpractice as well.


Misdiagnosis cases are more common when a cancer diagnosis is missed or a serious condition is treated like a less serious condition and it gets worse in the meantime.

Although misdiagnosis is common, it can be difficult to prove due to the uncertain nature of medicine. Misdiagnosing cancer by treating it as another condition or ailment, or by diagnosing cancer when it is something else is one of the most common misdiagnosis scenarios.

Failure to Treat

Failure to treat occurs when the doctor reaches the correct diagnosis, but fails to treat the condition with the standard of care.

Premature discharge, failure to refer a patient to a specialist, and lack of proper follow up can result in treatment plans that may not meet the needs of the patient. Usually this is a failure of a system - several health care workers drop the ball and its especially frustrating because the diagnosis is made, the condition is known and it's treatable.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are another common reason for medical malpractice claims. When a patient goes in for surgery, they are placing a lot of trust into the surgeon and his team and expect to receive the right surgery on the correct body part that they need. Not following medical safety procedures can lead to wrong site surgeries and surgical instruments being left in the patient's body.

Sometimes it starts with the anesthesia. The anesthesiologist could administer too much or not enough,  not review the patient's chart for allergies, contra indications and history, or not monitor the patient during the surgery. 

What can you do to prevent these common medical mistakes?  If you or someone you know will be hospitalized or undergo surgery, be sure to order your copy of 7 Symptoms of Medical Malpractice: How Every Patient Can Recognize, Stop and Avoid Medical Mistakes

Need more specific information on medical mistakes?  Call us today at 202-393-3320 to discuss your situation in confidence.  The call and any resources on medical malpractice, help for special needs kids, or anything else we have and can give you to help with your situation are free! 

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer
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