Medical Malpractice: Why Patients Sue
Misdiagnosis, surgical errors, treatment mistakes, and miscommunication are some of the most common reasons people sue for medical malpractice. Suing for malpractice could help compensate injured patients for medical bills and other losses caused by the negligence or incompetence of doctors or other care providers.
What is Medical Malpractice?
In medicine, not all mistakes are considered malpractice. For a medical mistake to be considered malpractice, it must meet three requirements:
- A breach of the standard of care was committed by the medical professional,
- The mistake caused injury to the patient, and
- The medical mistake was a cause of his or her injury.
34% of Payouts for Misdiagnosis
The National Academy of Medicine estimates that most people will experience at least one misdiagnosis during their lifetime. In 2018, malpractice cases filed because of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose accounted for 34 percent of payments made to injured patients and their families.
22% of Payouts for Surgical Errors
During 2018, 22 percent of malpractice payouts were awarded to patients who experienced injuries because of preventable surgical errors. These errors include, but were not limited to, wrong-site surgery, operating on the wrong patient, leaving tools inside patients, and anesthesia errors. Many of these errors could be traced back to negligence, incompetence, fatigue, or miscommunication between members of the medical team.
20% of Payouts For Treatment Errors
Patients injured because of treatment errors accounted for one-fifth of malpractice payouts in 2018. Malpractice occurs when doctors deviate from the standard of care in treating an injury or disease and cause further illness or injury to the patient.
11% of Payouts Related to Obstetric Errors
Obstetric errors include, but are not limited to, the failure to perform proper prenatal tests and negligence with monitoring mother and baby during pregnancy and delivery. This type of malpractice also includes birth injuries such as cerebral palsy or other permanent brain injuries that mean a lifetime of care for the injured child. In 2018, obstetric errors accounted for 11 percent of malpractice payouts.
Other Preventable Errors
Approximately 5 percent of malpractice payouts were for other preventable medical errors that caused injury or death to patients. Examples of these preventable medical errors include the failure to obtain a patient’s complete medical history, inadequate recordkeeping or follow-up, and miscommunication among the medical team.