In addition to dental, gynecological, hospital, neurological, and orthopedic malpractice, other areas of medicine can put patients at risk for sustaining further injury due to health care provider negligence. These additional practice areas include the following list of specialties and illness types:
- Asbestos-related cancer treatment
- Bed sores
- Burn treatment
- Chiropractic malpractice
- Medically necessary dieting
- Gandolinium and NSF
- Mistreating infections
- Paramedic malpractice
- Physical therapist malpractice
- Psychiatric malpractice
- Terminal illness
Other Areas of Malpractice Causes
Like the more common fields of medicine subject to medical malpractice lawsuits, there are several major causes of injury to patients that account for these claims. These root causes of malpractice include inadequate diagnosis, lack of informed consent, misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose, surgical and anesthesia error, infection, medication error, and healthcare worker fatigue.
Despite the wide array of medical careers and specialties, several basic standards of care are common to virtually all. When these standards are not followed, medical malpractice becomes a very real possibility. Below are some of the common errors that can lead to negligence or malpractice in the medical field.
Lack of informed consent
It is critical doctors obtain informed consent before carrying out any medical treatment on their patients. It is the physician’s responsibility to discuss the diagnosis, various treatment options, and associated risks of both accepting and refusing each treatment with patients beforehand. Although exceptions are made in cases of emergency, treating patients against their will or if they are uninformed can be grounds for malpractice.
Misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose
Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a patient accurately can lead to serious conditions that cause undue pain, suffering, and expenses. This includes diagnosing patients incorrectly, too late, or not at all. Diagnostic errors can be as detrimental to patient health as medical error and are just as preventable.
Surgical and anesthesia error
Surgical malpractice involves highly avoidable errors which can result in devastating consequences for patients. Common examples of surgical error include wrong-site surgery, acute respiratory failure, post-operative infections, blood clots, metabolic problems, poor nursing care, and reopened wounds.
Anesthesia errors include dosing errors, delayed delivery, monitoring mistakes, prolonged sedation, failure to instruct, and faulty equipment, among other issues. Anesthesia errors are not an uncommon occurrence. However, patients and their families may never learn of the complication unless a serious injury or death results.
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) affect nearly 2 million patients each year. In fact, an estimated 99,000 deaths and health care system costs of up to $20 billion result from these preventable infections.
The incorrect administration, combination, and dose of medications are among the more common hospital errors patients face. Despite the emergence of electronic health records (EHRs), proper patient care concerning medication remains a major problem for hospitals and other health care facilities. In addition, patients may be given medications they are allergic to or receive incorrect medications from a pharmacy.
Healthcare worker fatigue
Tired healthcare workers make mistakes. Extended shifts and facilities that fail to guard against worker sleep deprivation contribute to this major medical malpractice risk. According to one 2003 study, medical interns working shifts in excess of 80 hours saw a 61 percent increase in needlestick injuries.
- “20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors.” Patient Fact Sheet.” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, September 2011. Web. 25 May 2012.
- “Advancing Patient Safety: A Decade of Evidence, Design, and Implementation.” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, November 2009. Web. 25 May 2012.
- “Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs): The Burden.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Revised 13 December 2010. Web. 25 May 2012.
- “New AHRQ Study Finds Surgical Errors Cost Nearly $1.5 Billion Annually.” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 28 July 2008. Web. 25 May 2012.