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Medical Malpractice

Injuries and Death from Medical Negligence

According to the American Medical Association medical malpractice leads to 225,000 deaths every year. It also leads to countless injuries, which can leave survivors with debilitating, life-altering conditions. Medical malpractice claims can help injured victims and their families recover damages for past and future medical expenses, loss of wages, and even pain and suffering.


A doctor-patient relationship existed. This means you actually hired the doctor. For example, if you ask your friend who knows a doctor to ask for medical advice, you cannot file a claim against that doctor because he/she never treated you, thus no doctor-patient relationship actually existed.

The doctor was negligent. The doctor was not reasonably skillful and careful in your diagnosis or treatment. You must be able to show the doctor caused you harm in a way a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would not have.

The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. It must be proven it was the doctor’s negligence, not a pre-existing condition, that caused you harm. The patient must show it is “more likely than not” that the doctor’s incompetence directly caused the injury. This is where it helps to have a medical expert involved in your case.

The injury led to specific damages. Even if it is clear the doctor performed below the expected standards in his or her field, the patient can only sue for malpractice if the injury led to actual harm. For example, if a doctor incorrectly prescribed a medication, but there were no adverse side-effects, pain, or complications, it would be reasonable to say it would be impractical to file a medical malpractice suit. Damages that can form the basis of a claim may include:

  • Physical pain
  • Mental anguish
  • Additional medical bills
  • Lost work and lost earning capacity


There are many different situations that can lead to a medical malpractice claim. Examples include misdiagnosis, failing to notify a patient of a disorder or disease, or even leaving a surgical instrument in a patient’s body. Some common medical malpractice claims include:

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

  • This occurs when a doctor makes an incorrect diagnosis or makes a diagnosis too late for the recommended treatment to help the patient.
  • Diagnosis mistakes can cause the patient to miss treatment opportunities that could have prevented serious harm or death.
  • As with most medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must prove a competent doctor would have not made the same mistake.
  • Ex: A Pennsylvania widow was awarded $1.2 million for the wrongful death of her husband in 1999. The man was admitted into the emergency room for chest pains and was released a short time later without treatment. He died of a heart attack less than 36 hours later.

Childbirth Injuries

  • Negligent Prenatal care most often includes failure to diagnose medical conditions of the mother, birth defects, or diseases that can be transferred from mother to fetus.
  • Negligence during childbirth can also cause childbirth injuries. Negligence can include failure to respond to fetal distress, incompetent use of forceps or vacuum extractors, and failure to anticipate or act on birthing complications.
  • Ex: In 2011, a New York jury awarded a mother $3 million for a childbirth injury that occurred 18 years prior. The pregnant woman was experiencing labor pains and was admitted into the hospital and scheduled for an emergency C-section. The surgery was delayed 3-4 hours, causing the baby to suffer brain injuries that led to lifelong developmental problems.

Medication Errors

  • Doctors can make a mistake in type of medication or dosage prescribed.
  • The person who fills the prescription or administers the medication can also make filling errors and dosage mistakes.
  • If medication is administered via equipment, mistakes can be made if the equipment malfunctions or is defective.
  • Ex: A Florida jury awarded $3.3 million to the family of a woman who died after being given the wrong dosage of prescription medication at a Walgreen’s store. The pharmacist gave the woman 10 times the prescribed dosage of the blood thinner Warfarin, which led to cerebral hemorrhage, paralysis, and her eventual death.

Anesthesia Errors

  • When it comes to anesthesia, one small error often has devastating consequences. Common causes of anesthesia errors include:
  • A doctor’s failure to investigate medical history or monitor vital signs;
  • An anesthesiologist giving too much or not enough anesthesia;
  • Defective equipment or improper intubation.
  • Ex: An Alabama jury awarded $20 million to the family of a woman who died from an adverse reaction to anesthesia due to the medical staff’s failure to identify risk factors listed on the woman’s medical records.

Surgery Errors

  • There are a number of things that can go wrong before, during, and after surgery.
  • During pre-op, failure to inform patients of risks can lead a patient to agree to a surgery without understanding the severity of complications that could arise.
  • Negligence during operation can include leaving surgical tools in body, performing the wrong surgical procedure, or operating on the wrong body part.
  • Negligence in post-op care could lead to infections or other serious complications.
  • Ex: A man had surgery to remove his gallbladder in 2008. In 2009 he was rushed to the hospital for severe pain and high fever. It was discovered that the doctors had not only failed to remove his gallbladder, but had also left a surgical sponge inside his body. The man was awarded $4 million for medical malpractice.


If you’ve been injured, we can help. Contact us