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Types of Medical Malpractice

10 Common Types of Medical Malpractice

November 19, 2019

Each year, more than 250,000 people in the United States die as the result of various types of medical malpractice. This makes medical mistakes the third leading cause of death in the country, behind cancer and heart disease. Furthermore, because negligence is not typically documented on death certificates, experts believe this is actually a conservative estimate.

Here are some other startling statistics:

  • In 2018, U. S. plaintiffs who filed medical malpractice claims received settlements totaling approximately $4 billion.
  • Almost 30% of the victims in these cases died as a result of the negligent actions that prompted the lawsuits.
  • The largest percentage of these claims (34.1%) related to diagnostic errors, followed by surgical errors (21.4%) and treatment mistakes (21.1%).

Types of Medical Malpractice

Malpractice takes many forms. Some types of negligence are harder to recognize, especially when the patient does not discover the harm until weeks, months, or even years later. Doctors, nurses, technicians, or other health care practitioners can commit negligent acts that cause patients to suffer serious consequences.

Here are the 10 most common types of medical malpractice:

Failure to diagnose a serious condition

The most frequent form of malpractice is a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition that can cause serious harm. For example, suppose a doctor or technician fails to diagnose a fractured knee or ankle during an emergency room visit. As a result, the patient could lose mobility in the affected leg and/or face a lifetime of chronic pain. Furthermore, failing to diagnose a serious disease can cause severe illness or death.

Surgical errors

Many types of medical malpractice involve surgical errors. Such mistakes can range from operating on the wrong patient or body part to failing to provide adequate post-surgical care. In addition, unsanitary conditions can cause illness and serious infections.

Incorrect treatment of a medical condition

A patient may experience deadly consequences when a physician provides the wrong treatment of a critical illness or injury. This also applies to doctors who fail to provide treatment for a patient’s condition.

Birth injuries

A birth injury can result when a doctor or technician makes an error during pregnancy, labor and/or delivery. The most common type of birth injury is cerebral palsy, which may result when a newborn is deprived of oxygen during the birth process. Other mistakes that may cause birth injuries are improper monitoring or failing to perform a C-section when necessary.

Cancer misdiagnosis

When a doctor misdiagnoses a serious disease such as cancer, the consequences can be fatal. Patients whose cancer is detected and treated in the early stages have higher survival rates. Therefore, if a patient is not diagnosed when symptoms first appear, the disease is likely to progress to a stage where treatment is no longer effective.

Medication errors

Many malpractice claims involve errors in prescribing and administering medication. A doctor may prescribe the wrong drug or dosage. In addition, a pharmacist may misread a prescription and provide the wrong medication to the patient. Further, a patient can have a life-threatening reaction if a doctor fails to check for drug allergies or interactions with existing medications.


Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores form when a patient is left in the same position for too long. Bedsores, which are a sign of neglect or inadequate care, are commonly seen in hospitals and nursing homes. If left untreated, bedsores can become infected and lead to more serious health problems.

Anesthesia errors

If an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist makes a mistake, it can cause permanent injury, brain damage or even death. Common errors include failing to review the patient’s medical history or improperly monitoring vital signs during surgery.

Dental mistakes

Like physicians, dentists and oral surgeons can also make harmful mistakes. A patient can suffer serious harm if a dentist misdiagnoses oral cancer or makes a mistake when administering anesthesia. 

Failure to prevent or treat infections

Hospital patients develop infections more often than we imagine. And, for the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, any infection can turn life-threatening. In addition, many of today’s infections, known as “superbugs,” are resistant to traditional antibiotics. Some infections are caused by negligence, such as unsanitary conditions or implements. Further, patients can become ill when staff members ignore infection prevention protocols such as hand-washing and wearing masks.

If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, call us. Our skilled legal team will make sure you receive the compensation you and your family deserve.

Medical malpractice law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free, no-obligation consultation.