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Greenbelt Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Misdiagnosis and treatment errors cause harm to patients

Medical malpractice can occur in many different forms. One of the most common medical mistakes involves the misdiagnosis of a patient condition, which leads to erroneous treatment. When a physician fails to diagnose a patient's illness, or incorrectly diagnoses them, the patient is the one who suffers. Some patients end up suffering severe medical complications that they would not have suffered had the doctor made an accurate and timely diagnosis.

Generally, in order to diagnose a patient, doctors establish what is called a "differential diagnosis." The doctor will create a list of likely diagnoses from most probable to least probable based on the patient's symptoms. The doctor's list can be called into question if the patient or patient's family decides to file a medical malpractice suit against them. The case will rest on whether a reasonably prudent physician would have the same potential diagnoses list as the doctor did, in similar circumstances. If the patient's physician failed to consider the patient's actual diagnosis or failed to take steps to rule it out, they may be liable for the patient's injuries.

Over one-fifth of Americans report experiencing medical errors

When we go to the doctor, we expect our doctors to diagnose our illnesses accurately and offer appropriate treatment. According to a recent survey by the IHI/NPSF Lucian Leape Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago, 21 percent of American adults reported that they have personally experienced a medical error in their lifetimes. Additionally, 31 percent of adults reported that someone they cared for experienced an error. Doctor's errors can have serious consequences and leave patients and their families devastated physically, financially and emotionally.

Over 2,500 people took the survey nationwide earlier this year. The study showed that, out of the people who experienced errors, only close to 50 percent reported the error to the healthcare facility. The people who experienced the errors found that multiple factors played a role in these errors and that it is the responsibility of health care professionals and facilities to handle these issues.

Medical negligence may cause birth injuries

The birth of a child can be one of the most exciting events in a parent's life. Sadly, that excitement can quickly turn into anxiety if the baby is injured during the labor and delivery process. While some of these injuries are unavoidable, many birth injuries are caused by negligent physicians. Sometimes, negligent doctors may fail to properly assess their patient's condition or fail to prescribe the right prenatal care. In other cases, the physician may make mistakes during the delivery, by improperly using medical devices or failing to perform a cesarean section when necessary.

Injuries to the baby's head can have serious consequences. Some babies experience caput succedaneum, or the swelling of the tissues in the scalp, while others experience cephalohematoma, or bleeding underneath the cranial bones.

Lack of informed consent may result in medical malpractice

Your doctor may know best when it comes to your medical care. That doesn't mean they can treat you without your consent. Before a physician can perform a procedure on a patient, they are legally required to provide their patients with information regarding their condition and possible treatments so that the patient can make an informed decision about their care. Before a physician can perform a procedure on a patient, the patient must give informed consent to undergo said procedure.

When a doctor fails to properly inform their patient or fails to get the patient's informed consent before performing a procedure, they could be subjected to a medical malpractice lawsuit. The patient would have to prove that the doctor did not do his or her due diligence in explaining the advantages and risks of a particular procedure and that the procedure was performed without their consent. The patient would also have to prove that if they had known all the information, they would not have gone through with the procedure. Finally, the patient will have to show that they were injured because of the procedure.

Surgical trainees responsible for medical malpractice cases

When you are admitted as a patient at a hospital, you have the right to receive competent medical care from quality physicians. In many hospitals, surgical residents, fellows and interns are involved in treating and diagnosing patients. This involvement helps them learn and become better surgeons in the future. Unfortunately, these doctors-in-training make surgical errors and are therefore responsible for many instances of medical malpractice.

A Mayo Clinic physician recently reviewed 10 years of medical malpractice cases in the U.S. and found that 87 malpractice cases involved a surgical resident, intern or fellow, with the plaintiff winning in approximately 50 percent of them. A majority of these malpractice claims, around 70 percent, involved elective surgeries and 54 percent of them occurred in general surgery.

Doctors who breach duty of care may be guilty of malpractice

If a Maryland patient suffers further injury or illness as a result of a doctor's negligence, they may file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for their care and the hospital who hired them. Generally, a successful medical malpractice lawsuit will be based on whether the doctor violated their duty of care to the patient in question.

What exactly is this duty of care? In the United States, doctors have a duty to assist injured or ill people only if there is an established doctor-patient relationship. This generally means that once a doctor decides to aid an ailing patient, they will be liable for any damages that occur as a result of their negligent care.

Physician "calibration" may be necessary to avoid misdiagnoses

When a patient goes to a doctor for a medical diagnosis or treatment, they expect to receive adequate care based on the standard accepted in the medical community. When a doctor fails to properly diagnose their patient, the patient may file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor and hospital responsible for their treatment.

An internist physician at the University of Chicago recently reported that doctors who are not "calibrated" to make the correct patient-related decisions are more likely to make diagnostic errors. This means that doctors who treat mostly healthy patients may automatically think that certain tests are unnecessary or that certain conditions are not worth considering. Some of these physicians may be overly confident and assume that their patients are exaggerating. As a result, they may ignore critical symptoms, fail to run certain tests and misdiagnose their patients. On the other hand, physicians who are less confident or have been properly "calibrated" are more likely to order more tests to make sure their diagnosis is correct.

If your doctor was negligent, we can help you file your claim

If you are sick or injured, you may go to the hospital for medical advice or treatment. All hospital medical professionals must treat patients in accordance with the standards of medical care as established by the medical community. The idea is to help patients get better as quickly as possible by exercising the same level of care that a reasonable physician in the same field in similar circumstances would.

Unfortunately, however, some medical professionals do not meet the requisite medical standards when treating their patients. When a doctor is negligent in treating a patient, the patient may suffer additional injuries and require surgeries and other treatments they would not have needed had they been properly treated in the first place. In some cases, negligent doctors will misdiagnose or fail to diagnose a patient. By the time the doctor gives the correct diagnosis, the patient's condition may have worsened and become untreatable. As a result, many patients end up losing their lives due to medical malpractice.

Woman sues hospital and physician for misdiagnosis

Doctors in Maryland are responsible for diagnosing our illnesses and injuries and coming up with the best possible treatment options. However, even the top physicians can make a mistake while diagnosing or treating a patient. A failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis of a condition can cause death or additional injury. Patients who are the victims of a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis may be able to file a lawsuit against their treating physician for medical malpractice.

One patient recently sued a physician and health care facility for misdiagnosing the condition of her deceased loved one. The patient had received treatment at the facility for approximately 11 months, from January to November of 2015. The woman accuses the facility of medical negligence for their misdiagnosis of the deceased's medical condition. Because of their misdiagnosis, they failed to provide the proper treatment to the patient, which ultimately resulted in her death.

How can I file a medical malpractice suit?

Patients trust their physicians to adhere to accepted medical standards when diagnosing them and administering treatment. Unfortunately, many hospitals, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals do not adhere to these standards and end up causing their patients harm. If you have suffered at the hands of a negligent medical professional, you may be able to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your injuries.

Filing a medical malpractice suit in Maryland against anyone who administered negligent care and caused your injury is crucial to recovering damages. The first step in your medical malpractice case will be to contact the medical professional who treated you. You can discuss your case and determine whether there is anything they can do to remedy the situation. If this does not help, you may need to contact the medical licensing board responsible for their license to practice. They may provide you with additional information and discipline the medical professional for their negligence.

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Law Offices of W. Scott Sonntag, P.A.
Maryland Trade Center III
7501 Greenway Center Drive # 460
Greenbelt, MD 20770
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