Legal Guide

What are the 5 Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

The Journal of Patient Safety estimates the third leading cause of death in the United States is hospital errors. It trails behind heart disease and cancer deaths.That means hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths, about 440,000, directly result from medical mistakes. When medical errors lead to injuries, that mistake can form the basis of a medical malpractice suit.

Medical malpractice is when a medical professional act or fails to act during the treatment of a patient. The action or omission must deviate from acceptable norms of practice in the medical community and, as a result, cause the patient injury.

In Georgia, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be complicated. For starters, medical issues common to malpractice cases are very complex. Also, the injured party must show that their injuries were caused by the medical professional’s negligence. Negligence can be the result of a diagnosis error, treatment, aftercare, or health management. However, you must prove the necessary legal elements to be compensated and win your case.  

Five Common Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Cases

Below are common errors that lead to medical malpractice claims: 

  1. Misdiagnosis: Misdiagnosismeans that a medical professional failed to properly diagnose an illness. This happens when a medical professional doesn’t recognize a condition. Other times, a physician fails to order more tests that could lead to a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately, this is a prevalent mistake. Heart attacks and cancer are among the most common misdiagnosed cases.

It’s important to understand that just because a misdiagnosis was made doesn’t mean that there is an automatic medical malpractice case. Georgia’s medical malpractice laws have specific requirements for a successful lawsuit.

  1. Surgical Errors: This is one we’d like to believe isn’t so common. We’ve heard stories about a surgeon removing the wrong arm, taking the wrong organ, and even leaving tools or sponges inside a person’s body during surgery. But, surgical errors are actually a common medical mistake. They can also happen when a surgeon doesn’t correctly monitor or correct problems with anesthesia. When a surgeon commits such errors, they can provide the basis for a malpractice suit.
  2. Failure to Treat: At times, a medical professional makes a proper diagnosis. However, they fail to treat the condition following an acceptable standard of care. Such mistakes can include discharging a patient too early or not providing adequate follow-up care. These actions, or the failure of efforts, leave the patient in a worse condition. It can also lead to other injuries.
  3. Birth Injuries: Obstetricians and Gynecologists (OBGNY) account for a high percentage of medical malpractice lawsuits related to childbirth. However, mistakes can occur at any stage of pregnancy, not just birth. Some typical delivery mistakes include spinal cord injuries, shoulder dystocia, cerebral palsy, and other injuries during delivery. Other errors include substandard prenatal care, such as failing to recognize fetal distress.
  4. Prescription Drug Errors:Prescribing the wrong medication is another common error. The correct medication is prescribed, but it is the wrong dosage. Medical professionals may also fail to realize harmful interactions between certain prescription drugs the patient takes.

Legal Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

Even if your case falls within a common malpractice claim, anyone who wants to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Georgia must start the case within two years of injury. Aside from the timeliness issue, victims must also prove other elements to be successful.

  • Duty. There must be a doctor-patient relationship. You have to show a physician-patient relationship with the doctor you are suing. That can usually be met with evidence that you hired the doctor, and the doctor agreed to be hired.
  • Breach. The medical profession must have acted negligently. That means that the doctor’s actions or inactions caused injuries when a competent doctor working under similar circumstances would not have. The injured party must have an “affidavit of expert” in Georgia. A qualified medical expert must provide an affidavit detailing one or more negligent acts committed by the medical professional who is being sued. 
  • Causation. Many malpractice cases involve patients who were already sick or injured. It can be difficult to show a doctor’s negligence was responsible. The doctor’s negligence must have caused harm.
  • Damage. In every medical malpractice claim, there must be an injured party. If there is no injury, then there is no case. Some examples of injury include physical pain, mental anguish, lost work, and lost earning capacity. 

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