What Is Considered Medical Negligence?

close up of male and female doctors performing surgery
April 25, 2018
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

When we go to the doctor, have a medical procedure done at the hospital, or have to visit the emergency room for an injury, we put our trust – and sometimes our lives – in the hands of the medical professionals who treat us. It may even seem inconceivable that they may, intentionally or not, make mistakes that can injure, or even cause death, to their patients. Even though they are well-educated and knowledgeable in their field the truth is as many as 440,000 Americans are dying each year due to preventable medical mistakes, making medical errors the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. This statistic only includes actual fatalities, when you combine that with the number of patients who are harmed by medical negligence but survive, the results are staggering.

What is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence is an act of negligence or omission when a medical professional doesn’t provide the expected standard of care, resulting in the injury or death of a patient. Medical negligence doesn’t only apply to doctors; it can apply to any medical staff, dentists, hospitals, and hospital staff. Medical negligence comes in many different forms, it can be any mistake or omission that occurs in the doctor’s office, during surgery, or during outpatient treatment for a medical condition. It can include any of the following, and more:

  • Misdiagnoses – Misdiagnosing an illness or condition is the most common medical mistake, and it can create a delay in the treatment or the wrong treatment being performed on a patient.
  • Delay in treatment – This type of negligence often happens in busy environments, like the emergency room, where patients have to wait for a long period of time before being triaged and treated, causing their illness or injury to escalate, when proper, timely treatment would have prevented additional injury.
  • Treating the wrong patient – This occurs in hospitals when patient identification isn’t verified, and they receive another patient’s medication, treatment, or surgical procedure.
  • Medication mistakes – Medication errors, like misdiagnoses, are some of the most common mistakes to happen to patients. They may be prescribed the wrong medication, or if they are hospitalized they may be given the incorrect medicine, the improper dose, or their medication is missed or forgotten.
  • The wrong site is treated – This type of negligence happens when a patient’s chart is misread or incorrect and they undergo the wrong surgery.
  • Something is left inside a patient – This may seem like something that cannot possibly happen, but surgical tools, sponges, and even scissors have been left inside patients’ bodies after surgery.
  • Infection – When medical staff fails to properly wash their hands, patients may contract infections in either hospitals or doctors’ offices.

How Do I Know If I Have a Medical Negligence Case?

Determining whether or not negligence has occurred can be complicated. Sometimes negative outcomes of medical treatments and procedures happen through no fault of doctors and medical staff. There is always a chance that something can go wrong and side effects or complications occur. Generally speaking, those possible outcomes should be discussed with patients and their families prior to treatment. When something out of the ordinary happens during treatment or a procedure, and it causes injury or harm to the patient, it may be a case of negligence.

Establishing whether negligence has occurred should be left up to qualified, seasoned attorneys who have experience with medical negligence cases. Deciding if you have a case will require both legal and medical professionals to review and evaluate all of your medical records.

Get Help with Your Case Now

If you or your loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, you need a Philadelphia medical negligence lawyer.

Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case. Recoveries always depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case, the injuries suffered, damages incurred, and the responsibility of those involved. This article is not to be considered advise, only the execution of the contingency agreement with this law firm will constitute an attorney-client relationship. The contents of this article are for general information only. If you would like to pursue a claim please contact an attorney immediately to discuss your specific facts and circumstances regarding your claim. Some cases accepted by this law firm may be referred to or worked on by other lawyers, depending on the area of practice and specifics of a particular case.

About Rand Spear

Rand Spear and his team of Philadephia personal injury lawyers in your corner for help with your claim. He is experienced in dealing with medical professionals and insurance companies and will fight to make sure that your rights are represented.