7 Common Medical Errors That Can Lead to Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Claims

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Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Over 250,000 people nationwide die every year from medical errors, while other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 440,000.

Medical malpractice occurs in Florida when a healthcare provider breaches a professional duty of care. If no reasonably competent physician with the same training level as your healthcare provider would have made the mistakes your doctor did, you may have a claim for malpractice.

However, if medical malpractice results in the death of the patient, their immediate family members can file a wrongful death claim.

According to the Florida Department of Health, in 2021, 1,727 medical malpractice claims were filed in the state. Of those, 812 were resolved through a medical malpractice settlement or a court ruling.

There are numerous medical errors that can be regarded as medical malpractice, and that can result in the death of the patient, prompting their family to file a wrongful death claim with the hospital and the medical staff. The following are seven common medical errors that can lead to wrongful death both in Florida and across the country.

1. Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose

It is estimated that 11% of medical problems result in a misdiagnosis, even though the error rate varies widely depending on the disease. Misdiagnosis harms approximately 795,000 people nationwide every year and can be fatal when the person has a life-threatening illness. Failure to diagnose is when a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a patient's condition, which can lead to complications, the worsening of their health problem, or even death. Some of the most common reasons misdiagnosis occurs are miscommunication between medical providers, lack of experience, overconfidence, and lack of time with patients.

2. Prescribing the Wrong Medication

When a patient takes the wrong medication for their health condition, they might experience adverse drug reactions, which can sometimes be deadly. In such cases, a wrongful death lawsuit for medical malpractice can be filed by their surviving family members. Similarly, prescribing the wrong dose of medication can result in harmful side effects, which can be fatal. Although medication errors can be caused by all members of the healthcare team, nursing medication errors are the most common. The reason is that nurses execute most medical orders and spend roughly 40% of their time in the hospital to administer drugs.

3. Not Following Up

Physicians and other medical professionals have a responsibility to do more than just care for a patient once. They have a responsibility to follow up and offer aftercare. When this does not happen, or there are failures in the follow-up leading to improper care, the patient may experience a range of consequences from mild symptoms to progression of disease and even death. Doctors are expected to take all reasonable steps to follow up with their patients, even when they miss appointments or ignore medical advice. If they fail to do so, they may be found to be negligent in a wrongful death lawsuit if a death occurs.

4. Unnecessary Surgery

Unnecessary surgery is any surgery that is not beneficial to or in the best interest of the patient. These surgeries are not only costly but also needlessly expose the patients to more risks of complications, including death. Some of the most unnecessary surgeries are C-sections, hysterectomies, spinal fusion and back surgery, heart stents, and episiotomy. If one of your family members lost their life after a surgical procedure and you feel that their surgery was unnecessary, you should speak with a medical malpractice lawyer before the statute of limitations runs out so that you can recover the damages you are entitled to.

5. Leaving Objects Inside the Patient's Body

It is medical malpractice to leave a foreign object inside a patient after a surgical procedure, and if this results in death, the family members of the patient can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. Some of the most common objects the medical team forgets to take out of the patient's body are cotton swabs, clamps, sponges, gauze pads, needles, and scissors. As you can imagine, the potential complications of retained surgical items can be severe. The presence of unintended items can disrupt crucial body processes or cause devastating internal injuries or even death.

6. Fatal Infections Acquired in the Hospital

While there are many reasons why an infection can develop, sometimes it is the consequence of medical malpractice. Doctors may not have followed the proper protocols to keep the environment clean and sanitary. Infections acquired in the hospital may be considered medical malpractice when the hospital staff's negligence caused a patient's infection, making them seriously injured, or when it results in their death. A hospital-acquired infection is one that would not have occurred had the patient not entered the hospital. Some of the infections a patient can acquire in the hospital that can be fatal are surgical site infections and bloodstream infections.

7. Failure to Order Appropriate Tests

Research suggests that one of the leading causes of missed and delayed diagnoses is failure to order the appropriate diagnostic test. When the right medical tests are not ordered, a patient's health condition might be overlooked. This can lead to serious harm and even death. A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine examined more than 300 closed medical malpractice cases that alleged a missed or delayed diagnosis. The researchers found that failure to order the appropriate diagnostic test, which occurred in 55% of cases, was the most common diagnostic error.

The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary Will Help You File Your Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Claim

With over 20 years of professional experience, Sean M. Cleary will provide you with quality legal assistance in filing a medical malpractice wrongful death claim if you lost a family member due to the negligence of medical professionals. Because we understand how heartwrenching losing a loved one can be, our compassionate legal team will help you navigate the process step by step with minimal involvement on your part. If you are in this awful situation, we encourage you to take legal action and file a wrongful death claim, as you are entitled to receive damages for your loss. The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary will offer you the legal assistance you need, regardless of how complex your case might be.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.