4 Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Posted by Randy Andrus | Aug 09, 2022

Doctors and medical providers are only human. They sometimes make mistakes when treating patients. When these mistakes are a result of medical malpractice, the results can be devastating and life-changing for patients. Patients may suffer severe injuries and significant losses as a result of medical malpractice. Not only does this leave patients and their families with financial implications such as large medical bills and potentially lost income, but it can also cause serious psychological and emotional damage. Patients may experience severe pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of enjoyment of life, and other substantial psychological effects. 

In this article, we'll discuss 4 common types of medical malpractice:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Delayed diagnosis
  • Surgical errors
  • Birth injuries 

If you or a loved one has experienced substantial losses and injuries due to the negligence of a medical provider, schedule a confidential consultation with our medical malpractice lawyer by calling 801-535-4645 or filling out our secure online form here

When a Doctor Misdiagnoses 

Misdiagnosis is a common form of medical malpractice. This happens when a doctor fails to diagnose a patient with the correct ailment, instead diagnosing them with a different condition or no condition at all. If the patient's condition worsens as a result of the failure to diagnose, the error may rise to the level of medical malpractice. 

As an example of failure to diagnose, consider that a patient comes into a clinic with appendicitis and the doctor fails to identify the cause of the patient's symptoms. Should the patient's appendix later burst, the patient may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor. 

When a Doctor Delays Diagnosis 

Another potential form of medical negligence is a delay in a patient's diagnosis. Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are commonly linked. In this case, the doctor may initially fail to identify the patient's condition, then later come to the proper diagnosis. If the patient suffers complications or his/her condition worsens as a result of the delay in diagnosis, he/she may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. 

When a Surgeon Makes a Mistake

Sometimes mistakes are made in surgery, and these mishaps may rise to the level of medical malpractice depending on the circumstances. Some common surgical errors that may be classified as malpractice include:

  • Surgery on the wrong site
  • Surgery on the wrong side of the patient
  • Surgery on the wrong patient
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure
  • Performing an unnecessary procedure
  • Leaving surgical tools inside the patient
  • Damaging nerves, tissue, or organs during surgery
  • Using unsterilized tools during the procedure
  • Providing inadequate follow-up care 

Know that signing a consent form does not waive your right to file a medical malpractice claim

When a Doctor Causes a Birth Injury

Another common type of medical malpractice injury is birth injury. When a doctor is negligent in the delivery of an infant, serious injuries can result for the mother or child. Medical negligence may lead to the following types of birth injuries: 

  • Performing an unnecessary C-section
  • Failure to perform a C-section in emergency situations
  • Inadequate care during the pregnancy
  • Incorrect usage of devices, causing cerebral palsy or other complications
  • Anesthesia dosage mistakes
  • Failure to diagnose severe complications amid pregnancy or birth
  • Dropping, shaking, or mishandling an infant during or after birth
  • Inadequate follow-up care to the mother or infant

Potential Legal Remedy in Medical Malpractice Cases

Many states limit the amount of damages that patients or family members may recover in medical malpractice lawsuits. Utah has placed a $450,000 cap on non-monetary damages, however, there is no current cap on financial damages for medical malpractice lawsuits. Plaintiffs may be compensated for the following types of damages:

  • Financial Damages - These are monetary damages that may include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, rehabilitation costs, physical therapy bills, medication expenses, etc
  • Limited Non-Monetary Damages - These are non-monetary damages that may include emotional trauma, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, PTSD, anxiety, depression, pain and suffering, wrongful death, etc. The cap in Utah for non-monetary damages in a medical malpractice case is set at $450,000.
  • Punitive Damages - These damages are meant to punish the defendant by increasing the amount of money owed to the plaintiff. For medical malpractice claims, there is no cap on punitive damages in Utah. If punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff, the amount will depend on the defendant's financial assets, type of misconduct, and the level of overall plaintiff damages. Utah Code § 78B-3-410.    

Every case is different, so it's important to discuss the potential damages related to your specific case with a medical malpractice lawyer.

Are the Necessary Elements There?

To take legal action against a doctor for medical malpractice, four elements must be present and established. These elements include: 

  1. A Doctor-Patient Relationship - If the health professional had a professional relationship with the patient, then he/she owed the patient a duty of care
  2. The Standard of Care Was Not Met - If the provider was negligent in the treatment of the patient, then they would have failed to meet the standard of care that another professional of the same degree would have provided in treating the patient.
  3. Direct Injuries Were Caused - The doctor's negligence must have resulted in direct injuries to the patient.
  4. Damages Exist -  Similarly, the injuries caused by the doctor's negligence must have caused direct damages or losses to the patient. 

If these elements are present, a patient may have a medical malpractice case. Proving these elements can be complex, so it's important to speak with a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. 

Contact Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Utah

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the medical negligence of a doctor or healthcare provider, you may be eligible for legal compensation. To set up a confidential initial consultation with our medical malpractice lawyer, call us at 801-535-4645 or fill out our secure online form here

Don't delay in taking legal action. You have a limited amount of time to start the process of recovery before the statute of limitations expires. For more information on specific deadlines and other details that may be associated with your potential claim, speak with our lawyer today. 

About the Author

Randy Andrus

BIO   Education University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (LL.M. 1987) Business and Taxation – Transnational Practice Courses and International Bar Association Convention, Salzburg, Austria Southwestern University School of Law (J.D. 1984) Dean's List American Jurisprudence...

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