Legal Guide

The Five Most Common Forms of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice arises when a doctor, healthcare professional, or hospital injures a patient through negligent actions or omissions. Negligence in medical malpractice may be in the form of mistakes in diagnosis, treatment, or health management. Medical malpractice is a sub-category of personal injury but with a specific application to the healthcare industry. Here's a look at the five common forms of medical malpractice.

Birth Injuries

Childbirth is one of the main reasons for hospitalization. While parents expect to bring a healthy child home, complications occur during pregnancy and delivery, which can cause injury to the baby. Sometimes it's not clear whether a baby is suffering from a congenital disorder or whether it's a birth injury. A congenital disorder can’t be prevented. It usually occurs during pregnancy or before it and is a combination of environmental and hereditary factors. For example, a child may suffer from a congenital disorder if their mother drinks during pregnancy.

A birth injury can also be caused by the physician’s use of improper medical care during delivery. It may also arise due to the wrongful use of a medical device like vacuum or forceps. The common types of birth injuries include nerve damage, bone fractures, forceps or vacuum injuries, and umbilical cord entrapment.

Failure To Diagnose

Mistakes in medicine arise when a physician overlooks apparent signs and symptoms, which causes a patient's condition to worsen before the patient receives the appropriate treatment. This is known as a failure to diagnose. Some of the commonly undiagnosed conditions include diabetes, hypertension, breast cancer, heart attack, appendicitis, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

Failing to diagnose doesn't always qualify as medical malpractice. When determining negligence, the court will establish whether a doctor did everything reasonable during their diagnosis and that another physician facing a similar situation would've made a similar diagnosis. However, if an error doesn't involve the doctor, like a mistake in the laboratory by a lab technician, this still qualifies as medical malpractice. It's because of this error that the doctor failed to make an accurate diagnosis.

Failure To Treat

A patient who suffers injury from a known condition that the doctor failed to treat may be the victim of medical malpractice. When a doctor fails to treat a disease that should have been diagnosed, this can cause irreparable damage. Some examples of failure to treat scenarios include failure to conduct the necessary medical tests, failure to treat stroke or heart attack symptoms, failure to treat a patient because they don't have insurance, and failure to inform the patient about the treatments for their condition.


Where a medical practitioner fails to correctly diagnose a condition he or she should have diagnosed, and that failure results in additional harm to the patient, he is guilty of medical malpractice. This occurs when a medical practitioner informs a patient that they are fine, but the patient finally realizes that they've a medical condition. For example, a patient with breast cancer may go to the doctor for examination during stage 1, when it has not spread. If the doctor fails to diagnose that the patient has cancer and realizes later that her condition has progressed to stage 2 breast cancer, the doctor is guilty of a misdiagnosis.

Even when a misdiagnosed condition heals on its own, it's still medical malpractice. For example, when your doctor misdiagnosis you and the condition he fails to detect heals on its own. In other cases, the diagnosis is different from the patient's real condition resulting in missed or wrong treatment leading to debilitation or death.

Prescription Drug Errors

Prescription drug errors come in different forms. It can be when a pharmacist administers the wrong medication to a patient, when he administers too little or too much medication, or when he mislabels the medication. Prescription drug errors may also occur when a pharmacist prescribes a medication the patient is allergic to or when a doctor fails to warn their patient of the side effects of the medication.

Prescription drug errors are a common type of medical malpractice. Anyone who is along the chain of administering or prescribing medication can be held responsible for prescription drug errors. This includes hospitals, doctors, and nurses.

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