Most medical practitioners provide quality medical services and operate within the applicable standard of care. Medical malpractice cases occur when a medical professional makes an error that violates the standard of care for the acceptable boundaries in which a medical practitioner should perform their services.
Unfortunately, when medical errors occur they can result in life-altering injuries, and, in the worst possible cases death. There are a number of reasons why healthcare professionals make mistakes which could include, but not be limited to the following:
Failure to Properly Diagnose
Some doctors, or medical professionals, either see a patient or review the patient's medical records and then make a determination as to the diagnosis of the patient and determine a course of medical care to treat the underlying condition. Unfortunately, in some situations, the doctor or other medical professional misdiagnoses the medical condition or situation and performs a surgical procedure, develops a protocol to treat the patient, or administers drugs or therapy that is inappropriate given the misdiagnosis.
Failure to Timely Diagnose or Treat
A doctor, or medical professional, can see or treat a patient over a period of time and can make a proper diagnosis but it will not be done in a timely manner. The delay in properly diagnosing or treating a patient can sometimes result in significant problems, injuries, and conditions for the patient that would not have occurred had the diagnosis been made in a timely fashion.
Communication Lapses and Break Downs
Sometimes patients will need to be seen by multiple doctors and other healthcare professionals, and in certain cases may be seen at different hospitals where they undergo different tests. Patients may also be transferred within the same hospital to different floors or departments and have different healthcare providers and professionals review their files and make decisions as to the diagnosis, care, and treatment of the patient. There are times or situations when lapses in communication or a breakdown in the transference of information from one healthcare professional to another will result in a significant problem. These situations can sometimes lead to medical mistakes such as wrong-sided surgeries, procedures being performed on the wrong patient, errors in the administration of medication or treatment, early discharge from the hospital, and other errors that result from these miscommunications.
Failure to Follow Policies and Procedures
Medical mistakes can also result from inadequate policies and procedures within the medical facility or errors in the transference of information. Errors can occur when policies, procedures, standards of care, and protocol are not followed within the medical facility. These situations can occur from notes not being properly recorded, critical information not being communicated to others, mislabeling of specimens or the confusion of test results involving multiple patients, and errors which occur when medical professionals do not have proper records to provide the medical care and attention that is required at the time when it is needed.
Not Enough Staffing
In the age of modern medicine, many small hospitals have been bought up by larger medical conglomerates and have become part of a network of hospitals that provide regional medical care. These larger medical facilities sometimes have staffing problems where it is difficult for the people working there to provide acceptable medical care and attention to the patient. This is on top of the fact that they may be working long hours, overtime, double shifts, and in general these facilities may not have enough people to properly treat and manage the patients that are under their care. These conditions can also result from an inadequate flow of information from one department or doctor to another or a delay in getting this valuable information to the current medical treater. These situations sometimes result in significant injuries or deadly consequences.
Sometimes doctors or other medical professionals will be working long days, seeing many patients, getting little sleep, and might be experiencing fatigue- and in some extreme cases- exhaustion. Many times, these situations will adversely affect the healthcare professional by causing impaired or bad judgments, they may affect them physically and impair their ability to properly operate or treat the patient. These mistakes can result in horrific injuries and sometimes death.
Incompetent Doctors or Poor Training
Large teaching hospitals act as classrooms for new doctors to learn how to practice medicine. In training, these new doctors and their medical professionals are sometimes put in situations where they are not properly equipped or trained to provide the proper medical care and attention to their patients. If a patient is cared for by a doctor that is either inadequately trained or is not competent to provide the medical services that are required, then serious adverse medical situations can occur. Every surgeon that operates on a patient had to, at one point in time, perform their first surgery and most people would not want to be that doctor's first surgical candidate.
Drug or Alcohol Abuse
Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse exists in all aspects of our lives and can be found in every single occupation. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are in very stressful situations and can sometimes have to make life-and-death decisions that can create a great deal of anxiety for them. These healthcare professionals also have access to medication and can sometimes obtain and/or abuse these medicines which can result in potentially deadly results when dealing with patients.
If you or someone you know thinks they have been the victim of medical malpractice, please contact our office and we will be happy to discuss the facts of your case with you without cost or obligation.