Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Allegations

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According to a newly released report, over half of all doctors will be sued for medical malpractice during their careers.

Medscape, an online medical publication, released its “Medscape Malpractice Report 2021” on November 24.  It is a detailed look at medical malpractice lawsuits, with more than 4,300 doctors participating in an online survey.  The majority of the doctors have been practicing for more than 25 years.

More than half of all doctors (51%) said they have been sued for medical malpractice at least once.

Most Commonly Alleged Error in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

The report identified the top allegations in medical malpractice claims.  Misdiagnosis – a failure to diagnose or a delayed diagnosis – was the leading medical error allegation, involved in 31% of the medical malpractice lawsuits.

Other serious allegations in medical malpractice claims identified by the report include:

  • Complications from medical treatment or surgery
  • Failure to treat or delayed treatment
  • Wrongful death
  • Errors in medication administration

The surveyed doctors came from 29 different medical specialties.  A greater share of specialists reported being sued for medical malpractice (56%) than primary care physicians (42%).

The report broke out medical malpractice lawsuits by specialties.  More than 80% of plastic surgeons said they had been sued for medical malpractice, making it the top medical specialty, tied with general surgery.

Serious Surgical Errors

Surgical mistakes are a serious type of medical error.  Common examples of potentially fatal surgical errors are:

  • Wrong site surgery – surgeon operates on the wrong body part or wrong side of body
  • Surgical item left in patient
  • Surgical site infection

Following plastic surgeons and general surgeons, the medical specialties sued most often practiced in:

  • Orthopedics
  • Urology
  • OB/GYN
  • Specialized surgery
  • Emergency medicine
  • Otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat specialists)
  • Radiology
  • Cardiology

While cardiology is at the bottom of the specialty list, the report shows that nearly 60% of cardiologists reported being sued at least once for medical malpractice.

Charting Errors in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Reflecting on what, if anything, they would have done differently during the medical treatment that resulted in a medical malpractice claim, the top physician response was charting documentation. Medical records can be key pieces of evidence in medical malpractice lawsuits.

A patient’s medical chart may reveal medical errors, including:

  • Ordering or administering the wrong drug
  • Administering a drug in the wrong dosage
  • Ordering the wrong test
  • Failure to order a needed medical test

Miscommunication or poor communication can often lead to a serious medical error.  And the list of what doctors would have done differently reflects this.  Spending more time with the patient and the patient’s family, as well as more careful communications with patients were on that list.

The doctors were asked if the plaintiffs in their medical malpractice lawsuits received a monetary award.  Practically all of the injured parties received a monetary award. Only 2% of the doctors said the plaintiffs did not.

Yet, 61% of the doctors who were sued for medical malpractice said they believed the outcome of the lawsuit was fair.

Victims of serious, preventable medical errors have the legal right to sue for fair and just compensation.  In the most tragic of outcomes – the death of the patient – this right extends to the patient’s family.

If you suspect you or a loved one was a victim of a serious medical error, speak with a personal injury lawyer about pursuing your legal rights.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles December 15, 2021

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